UK budget carrier BMIbaby is to pull out of its Cardiff and Manchester bases and increase services from Belfast City Airport as it seeks to adjust to shifting economic conditions in its home market.
The low-cost division of British Midland International currently bases two Boeing 737s at both Cardiff and Manchester. The bases' closure after the summer 2011 season will see two aircraft redeployed to Belfast City, one to East Midlands and one to Birmingham.
"We're looking to optimise our route network and reallocating aircraft where there is the best potential for strong growth," says a BMIbaby spokeswoman.
Almost 70 staff at Cardiff will be given the opportunity to redeploy elsewhere on the network, while 64 of the 97 based at Manchester will also be given the opportunity to move within the company, she adds.
The new services to operate from Belfast City will be to Amsterdam (six times a week from 31 October), Geneva (winter season twice-weekly from 17 December), Malaga and Alicante (three times weekly), Palma and Faro (twice-weekly) all from March 2012, and Ibiza (weekly) from May 2012.
BMIbaby will also start weekly services from East Midlands to both Toulouse and Chambery from January 2012 to cater for skiers. The airline says that it plans to announce further new routes soon from East Midlands and Birmingham for the summer 2012 season.