Airline chiefs yesterday indicated they are in talks with airport bosses to add further new routes from Newcastle International Airport.
It comes after bmi regional unveiled its double daily service to Brussels, which will begin in March next year.
Cathal O’Connell, chief executive at bmi regional, hinted that his firm plan to build on its relationship with Newcastle International Airport, with potential for increased daily routes to Brussels and even new direct link destinations.
He said: “In Newcastle we see an opportunity to deliver more potential services. Certainly with Brussels we would like to increase to three services per day at least.
“We’re also in discussion with regard to other opportunities from Newcastle as well.
“We recognise there is an upturn in the overall market and our approach to the market is to try and develop the frequency of the route, but also try and increase the number of aircraft at each airport we serve.
“It’s about establishing a presence and working that presence upward to increase the number of aircraft and, by doing that, increasing the number of destinations.” On Monday, bmi announced the new Newcastle to Brussels route, which is scheduled to begin on March 3, 2014 and will take around 75 minutes and cost from £69.99 per person, including taxes.
The airline also offers a full in-flight service including at-seat meals and full bar selection, in addition to 20kg of checked baggage per person and 30-minute check-in.
Mr O’Connell believes these added extras set the carrier apart from its competitors. He added: “We had been working with Newcastle Airport in relation to the Brussels route as it hasn’t been served since March this year, so we will be taking over the route from March next year.
“The fares all begin at £69.99 including taxes, plus with bmi regional we offer baggage free, and in-flight catering is free. It’s very different from what passengers are used to with other airlines.
“The route will serve business customers as well as leisure customers.” Mr O’Connell also said the times of the flights will mean business travellers can fly to Brussels in the morning, have a full day of work and then return to Newcastle on the same day.
The new route makes Newcastle the third UK airport to be connected to the Belgian capital by bmi regional after East Midlands and Edinburgh.
The carrier was named Silver Airline of the Year at the annual European Regions Airline Association (ERA) awards in Austria this month.
Newcastle International currently connects to 80 destinations directly and provides customers with access via a wider global network through London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Dubai.
North East business leaders have welcomed the new bmi route, saying it will act as a vital link between European countries.
Charles Bragg, research and development director, P&G UK & Ireland, said: “Good transport links are an important consideration for P&G’s investment in the North East of England.”
Belgian travellers will also benefit, said Arnaud Feist, CEO at Brussels Airport Company. He added: “Newcastle has been a very important missing link in our extensive network to the UK. We are very pleased that bmi regional will commence direct flights to the Capital of Europe.”
Seats for the new link will go on sale in coming days and can be bought at www.bmiregional.com