Brussels flight link returns to Newcastle Airport – with 11 BMI flights per week

The North East once again has a direct link to Brussels with the launch of new flights by BMI from Newcastle to Brussels.  In February 2013 Brussels Airlines stopped the flights, as it was not profitable enough. There had been 3 flight per day, 6 days per week.  Now BMI Regional has stepped in, offering 11 flights a week  (twice a day Monday to Friday and once on Sunday) to and from Belgium.  An airport spokesman said  “The route is one that we lost earlier in the economic downturn, but we were determined to get it back.  ….. Connectivity is very important, and not just to business – Newcastle University finds EU funding key so we hope this route will also let them grow.” MEP Martin Callanan hopes the route will aid local business.  “We’ll start with 11 flights a week and then, if the demand is there, look at the possibility of a third daily flight.”

Brussels flight link returns to Newcastle International Airport

The North East once again has a direct link to Brussels with the launch of new flights from Newcastle

A BMI plane at Newcastle International Airport from Brussels

The North East once again has a direct link to Brussels with the launch of new flights from Newcastle.

Passengers have been unable to go straight to the capital of Europe from the region for almost a year after Brussels Airlines pulled out of the route.

But now BMI Regional has stepped in, offering 11 flights a week to and from Belgium – with it’s inaugural service greeted with a water cannon salute as it touched down atNewcastle International Airport.

“This is great news for the region,” airport planning and corporate affairs director Graeme Mason said.

“The route is one that we lost earlier in the economic downturn, but we were determined to get it back.

“We’ve worked very closely with businesses in the region and with the MEPs – who we’d like to thank for their support – and we’ve got a great airline in BMI Regional, which is the most punctual in the UK.

“Connectivity is very important, and not just to business – Newcastle University finds EU funding key so we hope this route will also let them grow.”

MEP Martin Callanan said, while the route will save him hours in travel time every week, it is the boon to business he is most looking forward to.

“This is great news for the region as transport routes are key to businesses, and will help to bring more jobs and revenue to the regional economy,” he said.

BMI chief executive Cathal O’Con­nell said the first flight had demonstrated exactly the sort of passengers they believe will be using the service, which runs twice a day Monday to Friday and once on Sunday.

“We’re absolutely delighted to be providing this service,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of discussions with both business and leisure interests on both sides of the sea and we believe the demand is there for this.

“The first flight had 38 people on board and that included businessmen, families and people from the Parliament, which is exactly the sort of people we expect.

“We’ll start with 11 flights a week and then, if the demand is there, look at the possibility of a third daily flight.”





Transport minister rules out cash handout for Newcastle Airport’s USA flights plan


Transport minister Robert Goodwill said he would not be using taxpayer cash to back direct flights from Tyneside during a visit to help launch Newcastle Airport’s new business park.

The aviation minister has ruled out Government support for flights from Newcastle to the USA, as the city’s airport kick-started its ambitious plans to create thousands of jobs.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill said he would not be using taxpayer cash to back direct flights from Tyneside during a visit to help launch Newcastle Airport’s new business park.

Airport chiefs say a £30m plan for six office buildings next to the Callerton Parkway Metro station will create around 1,000 jobs, part of a wider plan to expand the airport site along with property firm UK Land Estates.

Meeting with senior airport staff yesterday, Mr Goodwill said the Government was committed to backing “local international airports”.

However, asked if he would go as far as to offer support for the new flights – connections which would bring a much needed boost to the regional economy – the Scarborough and Whitby MP said he would leave it to the airport to sell itself abroad rather than offering Government financial support.

Flights to the US have been a target of not just the airport, with its seven council owners, but also the job-creating local enterprise partnership and the Chamber of Commerce, who have all backed the need for expansion westwards. But yesterday Mr Goodwill put on hold any hope of Government subsidy.

He said: “If you look at flights to Dubai you can see what can be done without Government funding.

“That successful route has been made without the need to use taxpayers’ money to subsidise it.” Mr Goodwill added: “I know that there has been some lobbying about, say, relaxing the air passenger duty here. The worry is that that could create a churn where the flights are only here until that subsidy goes.

“We have not been persuaded by the arguments so far. The Dubai flights are very well subscribed flights, the case can be made (to the operators) I think for flights into New Jersey or wherever in America.”

Newcastle International Airport chief executive David Laws said he believed the airport’s expansion and new office space would make it an even more attractive investment to American airlines.

“The new business park will help attract the type of airline that the whole region is desperate for,” he said. Mr Laws told the minister that connections through Newcastle Airport played a key role in encouraging firms to relocate to the region.

He added: “The location is great not only for aviation related companies, but also professional services, technology and IT, telecommunications and oil and gas / offshore businesses, who can make use of the excellent connectivity on offer.

“This is a very important development for us and one which we feel will be very popular.

“Other successful regional airports have been able to diversify their business and we see this scheme as critical in supporting the growth of the airport.

The overall project will comprise four phases, which collectively have the potential to deliver over 7,000 jobs and a regional economic boost of over £300m.

The development is being overseen by a steering group comprising Newcastle International Airport, UK Land Estates, Newcastle City Council, the Homes and Communities Agency and the North Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership.

Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said “Newcastle Airport provides an important gateway to new business opportunities across the globe.

“The creation of this new International Business Park at Newcastle Airport is a clear indication of our growing economic confidence and we look forward to welcoming new investors to our city and region, knowing they’ll benefit from a fantastic location and excellent connections.”



In December 2013, in response to the Airports Commission interim report, Newcastle airport said:


A new third runway at Heathrow would benefit the North East and see more connecting flights reach Newcastle International Airport.

……….Last night airport bosses said that the expansion at Heathrow needs to get the go-ahead so Newcastle International Airport can continue to have hub connecting flights.

Graeme Mason, planning and corporate affairs director at the airport, said: “I think the report is great news for the North East because of the options it has highlighted. It could have had a long list of options but it focuses particularly on Heathrow and Gatwick which is what we wanted.

“We strongly support Heathrow and the fact the report has made reference to its expansion is great news.

“We have submitted input into the whole process and we have always said we will support the expansion of Heathrow.

“Heathrow is the biggest single hub serving the region with half a million passengers, 50% of which are connecting to another airport.

“It is by far the largest and if Heathrow wasn’t expanding we could lose the connection. A new runway was always seen as the best interest for the North East.”






Some earlier news stories about Newcastle airport:


Newcastle airport produces new draft master plan for increasing number of leisure passengers

July 26, 2013        Newcastle Airport published a master plan in 1994, and another in 2003. That predicted by 2030 it might have 9 million passengers. There is now another draft master plan, out for consultation until 31st October, which anticipates perhaps 8.5 million passengers by 2030 (DfT anticipates around 6.3 million). They want to grow passenger numbers from the 4.4 million by 2030 and increase aircraft movements from 62,200 to up to 87,500 – making it one of the top 10 biggest airports in the UK. There are the usual predictions of more jobs (they say the airport now “supports” (vague term) 7,800 jobs across the region and by 2030 this will rise to 10,000. The airport hopes to develop 2 business parks on land south of the runway – one to extend existing aviation-related activities such as freight, and a new site for offices. They say these have the potential to deliver “thousands more” jobs. The airport says it contributed £646m to the regional economy in 2012, and by 2030 it is estimated that this figure will “more than double.” In 2005 some 22% of passengers were on business; by the 2009 CAA air passenger survey, it was only 20% on business. ie. 80% of passengers are leisure, contributing to taking their holiday money out of the UK.      Click here to view full story…


Emirates considers direct flights to the USA from UK northern airports, not Heathrow

July 26, 2013     Dubai’s Emirates Airline is interested in getting into the competitive transatlantic market, and offer flights from Dubai to the US via the UK. This market is currently dominated by BA, Virgin Atlantic, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines. Emirates will need to get regulatory approval first. Emirates believes there is strong unmet demand for flights from the north of England to the USA and last year carried 800,000 passengers on its routes in and out of its hubs in the north of England: Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester and Birmingham. There are growing numbers of Emirates passengers and services from these northern UK airports. In October, Emirates will launch flights from Dubai to New York via Milan. Their UK vice president said they are asking the Airports Commission to look at making all the regional airports completely open skies, so anyone can fly anywhere. If they use the northern airports, there is less pressure on the south east airports, and less rationale for building another runway. “Heathrow sits in the south of England, but Manchester has a bigger catchment area in terms of a two-hour drive.” If Emirates goes through with the plan BA and Virgin will be the big losers.    Click here to view full story..


Airlines like Emirates keen to fly from regional airports (like Newcastle) – reducing future demand at Heathrow and Gatwick

March 25, 2013     Heathrow Airport has been saying recently that, though it is desperate to get a third runway, even they realise that there is not the demand for a 4th runway. The DfT has consistently over-estimated the amount of passenger demand over the last decade. In reality, passengers from parts of the UK other than the south east can get long haul flights from regional airports. The UK Vice President of Emirates says he wants to expand flights from UK’s regional airports, rather than Heathrow or Gatwick, and has a direct flight from Newcastle to Dubai, for transfers on from there. With that happening more and more in future, the south east airports’ dreams for expansion in the south east, requiring a massive hub airport, look less and less probable. Forecasts more than a few years ahead are based on so many uncertainties and unknowns as to be almost without value. Making best use of existing airports is more efficient than grandiose new infrastructure projects which run the risk of being white elephants. Had a second Stansted runway been built by 2012, it would now be standing idle.    Click here to view full story…


Brussels Airlines to ground Newcastle to Brussels flight link

Feb 21 2013     It is  cancelling its direct flights from Newcastle to Brussels. Brussels Airlines currently runs 3 flights a day, 6 days a week from the region to Brussels.  Only last month, as part of a deal with budget operator Flybe, it announced plans to increase capacity by 60%. But future flights were quietly dropped from the company’s website, and now airport bosses have admitted the route is under threat and they are looking for someone else to take it on. North East Euro MP Fiona Hall said the move risked sending out the wrong message to companies looking to invest in the area. But the North East Chamber of Commerce said the move needs to be considered alongside the recent positive announcements of more flights to other parts of Europe. Seven weeks ago, a 78-seater Bombardier Q400 aircraft was introduced on the route, increasing capacity on the thrice-daily service by 60%. At the time it was said that the “frequency of flights and range of onward connections” was ensuring the route “remains popular and continues to thrive”.Click here to view full story ….



Local Councils should sell Newcastle Airport stake to save jobs and services

December 7, 2012     Conservative councillors in Northumberland and Newcastle have said the time has come for the North East’s 7 local authorities get out of the airport business and offload their shares. They could then avoid cuts to council services and jobs. The councils between them, including Northumberland and Newcastle, own a 51% stake in Newcastle airport, but have also had to spend £68m to help refinance its debts. In exchange the authorities receive on average just £500,000 a year in dividends, as well as a say over bigger airport issues. The ownership of the airport has been particularly controversial after a former airport chief executive to walk away with a multi-million £ bonus. At the hearing, which the airport lost but is trying to appeal against, a judge made repeated references to the councils’ lack of experience in running an airport.    Click here to view full story…


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