Pilots body angry as BMIbaby ends flights

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UK budget opereator BMIbaby has ceased flights after carrying out its last service yesterday evening.

The airline was established by BMI in March 2002, launching with flights from East Midlands airport to Malaga. It expanded by opening bases in Cardiff, Durham Tees Valley, Manchester and Birmingham, and carried a high of 4.3 million passengers in 2007.

It subsequently trimmed operations, dropping Cardiff and Manchester on top of the previously closed Durham Tees Valley base, and passenger numbers slipped to 2.2 million in its last full-year of operation. It had latterly been operating 14 Boeing 737-300/500s.

Closure seemed likely after Lufthansa - which had inherited the airline when it acquired BMI - failed to secure a new buyer for BMIbaby after International Airlines Group made clear it had no interest in running the low-cost unit after it acquired BMI. While a buyer was found for BMI Regional, IAG in May gave notice it would shut BMIbaby down by 10 September if no investor was found.

IAG earlier this month confirmed that after a review of options for BMIbaby and following formal consultation with union and employee representatives, the business would close on 9 September.

Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association says staff at the carrier have been badly served. "Lufthansa has let pilots down by keeping us at arm's length from would-be buyers, pressing us to accept cuts in pay and conditions with the false hope of a promising future," he says, adding that although BA made it clear the airline did not fit into its business plan and would be closed, "it has taken an extremely parsimonious approach" to redundancy payments. McAulsan also hit out at the UK Government stance, saying it has "not lifted one finger to help".