Walsh confirms the demise of Bmibaby

By Rob Gill

British Airways owner IAG is to press ahead with plans to close no-frills airline Bmibaby next month.

IAG announced its intention to close Bmibaby shortly after completing the deal to buy Bmi from Lufthansa, subject to a three-month consultation process with Bmibaby staff.

Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive said: “We completed the employee consultation on August 1 and we have decided to close Bmibaby with effect from September 9.”

IAG had already axed a series of Bmibaby routes from June with the remaining flights from Birmingham and East Midlands to stop flying in September.

The airline had been trying to find a buyer for the no-frills operation but did not have any success – unlike Aberdeen-based Bmi Regional which was sold to Sector Aviation on May 31.

Walsh added that the integration of Bmi into BA “remains on track” and should be completed by the end of 2012 although he admitted it was a “complex transition” process.

BA is taking on around 1,500 of Bmi’s 2,700 staff – mostly pilots and cabin crew. So far, 87 pilots and 125 cabin crew have moved across to BA while eight of Bmi’s 25 aircraft have been rebranded and moved to BA’s Air Operator Certificate.

All Bmi flights are now featured on BA’s selling platforms and BA has taken commercial control of 80 per cent of these services. BA announced its winter 2012/13 schedule last month.

The decision on which airlines’ will get the 12 Heathrow slots being given up by BA as part of the deal to secure European Commission approval is unlikely to be revealed until December, according to Walsh.

“We don’t know who is going to take them up,” he said. “But they are unlikely to be taken up before the start of the summer season which is at the end of March next year.”

Virgin Atlantic is among the airlines planning to apply for the short-haul slots to destinations such as Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Nice, Cairo, Moscow and Riyadh. Two further daily slots from Heathrow to Moscow have already been awarded to Russian carrier Transaero.

Sourced by ABTN

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