Airport staff will take on the challenge of an 85-mile walk on the Isle of Man in under 24 hours to raise money for Maggie’s Newcastle.
The 2014 Manx Telecom Parish Walk is a historic walking race which sees enthusiasts and professionals from across the UK visit the Isle of Man to endure a gruelling 85-mile course in just 24 hours.
The famous route takes walkers around each of the island’s parishes from 8am on Saturday 21 June 2014.
Eric Wrightson, 58, from Consett, is General Manager of Park & Fly at the airport and a keen long distance walker. He will be taking part in the event with help from colleague and support driver, John Mason.
The Isle of Man is divided into six ‘sheadings’ which are further divided into seventeen parishes, each with its own parish church. The original Parish Walk involved touching the door at each parish church but this practice has been phased out over time. The event is organised under the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules of race walking and attracts thousands of entrants each year.
Eric said: “I’m really looking forward to taking part in the walk. I’ve been training for the last few months with a number of walks across the North East. I’ve been long distance walking for around 10 years or so and I really enjoy it. It keeps me fit and it’s a great opportunity to get out and about and visit some wonderful places.
“I usually try to enter between 5 to 10 official challenge walks each year on varying distances from 20 miles to 50 miles, over different terrains such as moorland or hills. This time around I’m taking on something totally new – a course that will take me 85 miles on a historic route of the Isle of Man. Thousands of people enter but only a few hundred usually finish the full course, let alone finish it in less than 24 hours – I’m hoping to be one of them!
“My colleague John will be my support driver on the route as there are a number of different rules and restrictions in place. The walk attracts long distances walkers, both professional and amateur who, like me, enjoy the challenge!”
Citywing, which operates a service to the Isle of Man from Newcastle International Airport four times a week, supported the team by providing their flights to and from the event. Car Hire Company Avis is also providing a support car.
Eric added: “A huge thank you goes to Newcastle International Airport, Citywing and Avis for supporting this charity activity.”
David Buck, Managing Director of Citywing, said: “We’d like to wish Eric and John all the best for the Parish Walk 2014. The walk attracts thousands of entrants each year and guides visitors through some of the spectacular scenery on offer here on the Isle of Man. We’re famous for our stunning scenery and challenging walks and I’m sure they will both enjoy their visit tremendously.”
The pair will raise money for the airport’s adopted charity Maggie’s Newcastle by taking part in the challenge. Maggie’s, which has a cancer centre at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, offers free support and activities for those dealing with cancer and their loved ones.
Kelly Knighting-Wykes, Centre Fundraising Manager North East for Maggie’s, said: “Without support from companies like Newcastle International Airport and its staff, we couldn’t provide our much needed services to people living with cancer in the North East. Eric’s fundraising is fantastic and we really appreciate him taking on this huge challenge for Maggie’s Newcastle. This support will make a huge difference to what we can continue to provide our visitors when they need us most.”
To donate visit http://www.justgiving.com/parishwalk2014 or text the code NIAP85 and the amount you wish to donate, for example £5, to 70070. All donations gratefully received.
For more information on Newcastle International Airport visit www.newcastleairport.com
THE region’s air ambulance has opened a new base at Newcastle International Airport.
The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) will now operate out of Tyne and Wear after a partnership agreement was made with the airport.
GNAAS will still hold its main operational headquarters at Durham Tees Valley Airport near Darlington. It also operates an aircraft at Langwathby in Cumbria, which will also remain unaffected.
Kevin Hodgson, Director of Operations at GNAAS, said the Newcastle base would provide a strategic waypoint which will allow the charity to better serve the North East as a whole.
“This is great news for the charity and great news for the region,” he added. “It means we can now refuel and be ready for action quicker than ever before.
“We remain committed to Durham Tees Valley Airport, which has been a great supporter of the charity, but this arrangement just gives us greater flexibility, and that can only be of benefit to the patient.
“We would like to thank Newcastle International Airport for their support, this will make a big difference to the service we offer the region.”
The GNAAS aircraft are frequent visitors to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Hospital, which is one of only 12 hospitals listed by the NHS as adult and children’s major trauma centres in the country, along with the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.
Instead of flying straight back to base near Darlington, the helicopters will now be able to stop-over in Tyne and Wear, allowing for a more rapid refuelling and restocking, while providing the doctors, paramedics and pilots time to prepare for their next assignment. The new base features office space, toilet and kitchen facilities.
Testing of the new arrangement has already highlighted how important it could prove to be. On Sunday, May 11th, a woman fell at home in Swinhoe, near Holy Island, Northumberland, suffering two suspected broken legs.
The charity’s Guardian of the North aircraft was already situated at the new base, and from there reached the scene in seven minutes. From its normal base, the flight would have taken around twenty minutes.
Mr Hodgson said: “When responding to an emergency, time can be absolutely critical to the patient’s survival. Anyone in Tyne and Wear, and in Northumberland to the north, will benefit from much quicker response times when the aircraft is stationed at the new base.”
Dave Laws, Chief Executive of Newcastle International Airport, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Great North Air Ambulance with a new base here at Newcastle International Airport.
“Good transport links are essential, not only for the North East travelling public, but for services like the Air Ambulance, that have to reach people in need as quickly and efficiently as possible. We are pleased to support the Great North Air Ambulance and their activities across the region which help so many people each year.”
The Great North Air Ambulance Service is 100 per cent charitably funded and must raise around £4m a year to keep flying. It flies around 1,000 missions a year across the North East, North Yorkshire and Cumbria.
Thomson and First Choice increase capacity from Newcastle International Airport and introduce two new routes
Thomson and First Choice are pleased to announce that in summer 2015 they will be increasing capacity at Newcastle International Airport through the introduction of over 7,000 additional seats and two new routes to Agadir, Morocco and Dubrovnik, Croatia bringing the total destinations on offer from Newcastle Airport to 35.
The move to introduce these routes is part of the UK’s largest tour operator’s strategy to ensure customers across the UK can fly from their local airport, and stay at the best hotels in some of the most exciting destinations. The new routes went on sale on the 24th April.
Not only will customers from Newcastle be able to fly to some fantastic destinations, but they will also have the opportunity to choose varying durations – not just the standard seven and 14 night stays. Customers travelling from Newcastle will also have access to some of Thomson and First Choice’s most popular flagship hotels. These include the brand new for summer 2015 Thomson Sensatori Resorts in Ibiza and Turkey’s Dalaman region.
Local sun seekers will also be able to join Thomson Cruises’ brand new itineraries from Dubrovnik with the introduction of the new additional weekly flight to Croatia. They will have the opportunity to sail on Thomson Celebration on itineraries such as Grecian Legends and Croatian Classics, as well as taking advantage of the extensive cruise and stay programme on offer.
Karen Switzer, Director of Aviation Planning for Thomson and First Choice, said of the move: “Adding additional capacity from the North East of the UK and the introduction of two new routes demonstrates our commitment to Newcastle Airport and the local area, and following the success of similar routes across a number of regional airports, we know that the demand is there.
“Expanding access to our portfolio of destinations and hotels is a key part of our overall strategy and we hope that this move will enhance the holiday experience for our customers.”
Chris Sanders, Aviation Development Director, Newcastle International Airport added: “The addition of Agadir and flights to Dubrovnik is great news for the North East. It is a very long time ago since we last enjoyed flights to Morocco, while the Croatian flight allows travellers the option of both Mediterranean cruise and land-based holidays.”
South Tyneside Council Chief Executive, Martin Swales arranged a behind-the-scenes visit for South Tyneside Councillors to view the operations of the airport. As the Local Authority with lead responsibility for the airport, Elected Members were particularly keen to see progress. South Tyneside along with six other local authorities (Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland) hold the majority share.
• Summer programme underway including new daily flight to Dalaman
• New aircraft registrations G-TCDD and G-TCDE arrive in new Thomas Cook Airlines livery
• Summer 15 programme announced – includes new flights from Newcastle to Santorini and Hurghada
Following the announcement last year of daily flights to Dalaman this summer, Thomas Cook Airlines’ summer programme gets underway this week – with the airline’s fleet at Newcastle International Airport including two brand new Airbus A321 aircraft in the new Thomas Cook Sunny Heart livery.
Arriving at the airport on Wednesday night, the two aircraft – registrations G-TCDD and G-TCDE – will start taking holidaymakers overseas with their first flights as part of the Thomas Cook fleet on Thursday to Zante (05.00) and Dalaman (13.55) respectively.
Christoph Debus, CEO of Thomas Cook Airlines, said, “Today is a great day for holidaymakers in the North East, as we celebrate the arrival of two brand new aircraft and the start of our new flying programme for the summer – with even more new destinations announced for next summer too.
“Our customers will experience a new level of comfort and reliability on our new aircraft and we’re extremely pleased that we’re able to offer an increased schedule for both our flight-only and holiday customers. We’ve worked with the airport for many successful years and we’re very excited about developing our partnership even further.”
Thomas Cook Airlines will introduce a total of six new A321 aircraft across its UK fleet this summer.
Last year, Thomas Cook Airlines announced additional seats on flights taking off from Newcastle International Airport this summer, all made possible with the addition of another day’s flying to Dalaman, Turkey – meaning the airline will have daily departures to this popular destination in 2014 and further cementing its long term partnership with the airport. Coupled with the addition of a new-for-2014 flight to the popular Greek Island of Kos, there will be more choice for holidaymakers this summer.
For summer 2015, new routes from Newcastle have been announced to Santorini and Hurghada. Along with an additional flight to Enfidha, flight only and holiday deals for next summer are on sale now.
Dave Laws, Chief Executive of Newcastle International Airport added, “These new aircraft are a welcome addition to the Thomas Cook fleet based at Newcastle Airport, and it’s great to see the airline showing its dedication to the region in this way.
“With the announcement of new flights for this year and for 2015, North East travellers have an even wider range of destinations to choose from at their local airport. Newcastle Airport was named best large airport in the UK by readers of Which? Magazine in 2013, and services like this will help us to continue providing a great experience to our customers.”
Thomas Cook Airlines currently serves 24 destinations from Newcastle International Airport, with over 200,000 passengers each year flying with the airline.
As well as calling into any of Thomas Cook or Co-operative Travel stores in the Newcastle area, customers can find Thomas Cook Airlines’ flight-only offers at www.flythomascook.com. Thomas Cook holidays available at www.thomascook.com, or by calling 0844 412 5970.
Works set to transform the airside experience for passengers
Newcastle International Airport, the region’s largest airport, has today (Friday 11 April) announced a major development of its departure lounge, with a total investment of over £14 million.
The airport, which aims to be the most welcoming in the UK, formally outlined its plans to reshape the airside experience for passengers, which will see the entire departure lounge transform over the next year. As well as offering new shops, restaurants, cafes and bar areas, the departure lounge layout will be changed in order to provide a more straightforward journey for customers.
The first phase of the development is now complete, with The Beer House, Flying Hippo, and Aspire Lounge open for passengers from April 2014. The next major phase will begin in autumn 2014, with most work expected to be completed by May 2015.
Highlights still to come include a new walk-through World Duty Free store and exciting new food and beverage outlets, soon to be announced. Customers will benefit from an improved sense of flow as they pass through the curved walkways, seating areas and streamlined shop fronts of the new departure lounge.
Dave Laws, Chief Executive at Newcastle International Airport, said: “The departure lounge development will completely transform the airside experience for our customers. Alongside our business partners, we’re investing a total of £14 million to ensure customers have the best possible journey through the airport. Our passengers’ holidays start here at the airport so it’s very important to us that we give them the best possible experience. We also cater for many business travellers and we are always striving to meet their specific requirements.
“We are confident that the new layout will be more intuitive and will help passengers to make a more informed choice on where they shop, eat, drink or simply relax before their flight. The departure lounge will have a modern and vibrant shopping centre feel - something that we know from feedback is what our customers want. We are meeting the needs of the modern traveller with excellent facilities and there will be plenty on offer for families, couples, groups and business travellers alike.
“Existing brands such as WHSmith, Boots, Travelex, Accessorize and Traveller will move into new stores, while a host of additional new brands will join us before the project is finished in summer 2015.
“The first phase of the development is now complete. The Flying Hippo has opened to great feedback from passengers who enjoy the sense of fun and exceptional food. The Beer House also welcomed its first customers recently and is very popular with passengers wishing to sample some of the best local beers on offer.
“In addition, we recently opened the doors of our new Aspire Lounge which is the largest in the UK. The Lounge is available for all passengers. We are also the first in the country to have an AspirePlus Lounge which offers an adult only area with an enhanced menu, premium drinks package and exclusive Spey Whisky bar.”
Gill Caleary, Commercial Director at Newcastle International Airport, said: “The development, where possible, will capture the flavours and sense of the North East. We are using local suppliers and ingredients whenever we can to make the customer feel relaxed and at home, whilst showcasing the best of what we have for visitors.”
Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council and Leader of the LA7 shareholders, said: “This investment is great news for the region. The North East travelling public will enjoy the new facilities as they jet off either for business or that well-deserved holiday. The new development will reinforce Newcastle International’s role as a major regional airport, and a key economic generator for our region.”
David Rees of AMP Capital, said: “This development is an important part of the commercial strategy for the airport. The new departure lounge is a major investment by the airport, and its business partners, for the benefit of passengers. The plans are very exciting and I’m sure the full development will be extremely popular.”
The Flying Hippo
The Flying Hippo is an American-style diner with burgers, sharing pizzas, refillable drinks and even Prosecco on tap!
The restaurant also features an American smoking oven, a first in any airport in the UK, to cook pulled pork and briskets to perfection – currently a very popular food trend.
There are zones for family dining with booths incorporating special Flying Hippo interactive games to keep children entertained, as well as a dedicated children’s play area.
The Beer House
Lovers of real ale will enjoy the on-tap selection at The Beer House. Ales are sourced from Tyne Bank Brewery and served alongside popular premium lagers, such as Moretti and Pilsner Urquell.
Food at The Beer House is hand-held, featuring pulled pork and roast beef stotties with fresh bread coming from the artisan bakers at the Geordie Bakers.
Lucy Knowles, Chief Marketing Officer for SSP, said: “Creating a restaurant and bar that captured the spirit of the North East and offered food with genuine local provenance was a top priority for Newcastle International Airport. When we were designing the two new concepts, Flying Hippo and The Beer House, we worked with local suppliers from day one. Both our new outlets allow passengers to experience a real taste of the region - from locally produced beers such as Tyne Bank Silver Dollar, to burgers, ribs and bacon from local butchers Manners, and sausages and pork scratchings from Dropswell Farm, County Durham.
“Novel concepts such as smoking ovens especially imported from America add an exciting twist to the menus, and innovations such as Asti Spumante served ‘on tap’ or home-made ‘bar bits’ make Flying Hippo and The Beer House truly exciting places to start a trip.”
The Aspire Lounge is open to anyone regardless of which airline passengers are travelling with, or their class of travel.
Customers can also upgrade to the AspirePlus Lounge, which brings together opulent surroundings with dedicated staff on hand to give passengers the best possible start to their journey.
Shaun Weston, Travel Services Director at Swissport, commented: “We are delighted to be bringing a brand new concept to Newcastle Airport. Both the Aspire and AspirePlus Lounges support the airport’s commitment to passenger wellbeing and we look forward to helping Newcastle Airport achieve their goal to be the most welcoming airport in the UK. The new lounge means that customers travelling from Newcastle Airport can expect exceptional service and fantastic facilities in a comfortable, modern environment specifically designed to meet their needs.”
- Second route to Ireland launched in past 6 months;
- Newcastle passengers now have direct access to one of Ireland’s key tourist and business hubs;
- Airline aims to double passenger numbers to 2 million by 2016;
- 15,000 passengers estimated to be flown on route this year;
- Aer Lingus Regional’s newest aircraft to service route.
Aer Lingus Regional today (28 March) launched a new route from Newcastle to Cork as the airline continues to implement its strategic growth plan in the North East of England.
The first flight from Cork touched down today at 4.40pm. Aer Lingus Regional will now operate four return flights per week to Cork and aims to fly up to 15,000 passengers on the route in 2014. The airline plans to raise this number to over 25,000 passengers on the route next year and tickets are on sale now on AerLingus.com.
The addition of this route will ensure Newcastle-based customers have a direct route to the south of Ireland. Cork is Ireland’s second largest city, as well as being a key tourist hub and the starting point for Ireland’s ‘Wild Atlantic Way’, which stretches from the south to the west coast of Ireland.
The Newcastle-Cork route is the latest initiative of the airline’s ‘new beginning’ strategy and follows on from the success of the Newcastle-Dublin route which is going from strength to strength with up to three flights a day.
The Newcastle-Cork route will be operated by one of the airline’s new ATR 72-600 aircraft.
Stobart Air’s Chief Commercial Officer, Simon Fagan said that the addition of this new Newcastle-Cork route is a vital step in the growth plan for the airline which aims to double passenger numbers to 2 million by 2016.
‘We are delighted to launch the new Newcastle-Cork route. This new route connects passengers in Newcastle with Ireland’s second largest city and adds another of the main UK cities to the airline’s network for Irish passengers. Equally, the new route will enable North East-based passengers to access some of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations in the south of the country.
‘Aer Lingus Regional is committed to providing our customers with easy, convenient and great value in regional connections. We have already enjoyed great success with our Newcastle-Dublin route which launched last October and now we look forward to welcoming more passengers on board this new Newcastle-Cork route. There is enormous potential in this route, particularly given the links in the wind and tidal energy sector between Ireland and North East of England.’
Chris Sanders, Aviation Development Director at Newcastle International Airport, said:
‘We’re delighted that Aer Lingus Regional will be operating new services to Cork this year. This announcement increases the schedule choice for passengers flying from Newcastle on this important route.
‘Cork is a fantastic city break destination with a vibrant culture and fantastic tourist attractions. Its proximity to some of Ireland’s most popular tourist sights makes it an ideal destination for tourists. Business users will also be pleased with the convenient flight times on offer which allow day returns, four days a week, an incredible benefit for regular visitors to one of Europe’s leading technology hubs.’
The airline, which aims to double passenger numbers to over two million over the next five years, has overseen a 32% rise in Aer Lingus Regional passenger numbers in the 2013. Stobart Air, which operates the service, has over 550 flights per week across 27 routes in Ireland, the UK and France.
easyJet, the largest airline at Newcastle International Airport, has celebrated the launch of new flights to London Gatwick by helping three local entrepreneurs get a flying start to their expansion plans.
From Sunday (30 March) easyJet will launch flights between Newcastle International and London Gatwick, safeguarding the connection following Flybe’s decision to exit. To celebrate the launch, easyJet has partnered with the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) to offer three North East-based businesses a year’s worth of free flights which will help them to showcase their products in London.
Catering company ‘Love Food’, digital firm ‘EventSneaker’ and online Butchers ‘Great British Meat Company’ intend to use their flights to reach business meetings, attend events and secure new business in London to support their expansion plans.
easyJet expects to carry around 105,000 passengers on the new London flights annually and will offer a twice daily connection from Newcastle International with prices starting from £24.49 one-way.
Ali Gayward, UK Commercial Manager at easyJet, said: “We’re pleased to add another new easyJet route from Newcastle International and help safeguard air links between London Gatwick and the North East. Ensuring there is affordable, quick and reliable access between these economic hubs will help businesses and inward investment continue to thrive.
“To underline the importance of the flights for the business community we have linked with the North East Chamber of Commerce to provide three local entrepreneurs with a flying start to their expansion plans.”
North East Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, James Ramsbotham, commented: “Improving connectivity and access to international gateways is vital for North East business and the continued economic growth of our region.
“It is fantastic to see easyJet recognising the potential for a route to the capital and helping some of our exciting new businesses make use of the service.”
Dave Laws, Chief Executive of Newcastle International Airport, said: “We are delighted easyJet are taking over this important link offering their fantastic service and low fares. We expect significant numbers of business and leisure passengers to fly with them as London Gatwick is a great airport with direct train and road connections to London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex. The flights will also provide access to the 100 destinations easyJet serve directly from London Gatwick.”
The airline will be supporting travel for the following North East-based enterprises:
EventSneaker - www.eventsneaker.com
EventSneaker is an online platform for event organisers that provides a hub for users to send messages and organise their events from one place, accessible anywhere. The business will celebrate 10 months in business at the end of the month.
Mark Stephenson, co-founder of EventSneaker, said: “I’m hoping that this new route will open up a new corridor for us so that we can take advantage of the business to be done in London, and hopefully bring some of it back home with us to the North!”
Great British Meat Company - www.greatbritishmeat.com
Launched in June 2013, Great British Meat Co. is an online butchers that provides locally-sourced quality meat at an affordable price for consumers across the UK.
Sam Wass, Director of the company, said: “As a new business, it’s important for us to be budget savvy whilst maximising our time. We visit London often to meet with suppliers, so easyJet’s new route will help to make our travel more efficient.”
Love Food - www.lovefoodltd.co.uk
Operating from their base in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Love Food offer catering services to the whole of the North East for all occasions, whether it be weddings, corporate catering or private dinner parties.
Leanne McHugh, Managing Director, said: “Quite a few of our clients are London-based and are arranging events in the North-East, so easyJet’s new route will make linking with them a lot quicker and easier.”
- Move Opens Up Brussels Airlines Network to Business and Leisure Travellers
- Integral Step to Providing Global Connections
- Twice Daily Flights – duration: 1hr 25 m
Starting 30 March, Brussels Airlines adds Newcastle to its extensive European network thanks to a codeshare partnership with bmi regional, the UK’s most punctual scheduled airline. The Newcastle to Brussels route - which commenced on 3 March - enables business and leisure travellers from Newcastle International Airport to connect twice daily to Brussels Airport. The new codeshare agreement enables passengers to continue their journey to Brussels Airlines destinations across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North America.
The move strengthens Brussels Airlines’ network presence in the United Kingdom and is the first codeshare agreement for bmi regional since its independence 20 months ago. The timetable (departures from Newcastle at 6.45am and 5.05pm; departures from Brussels at 9.50am and 8.25pm) enables passengers to combine the Newcastle service with many Brussels Airlines destinations including New York; business hubs in Africa such as Cameroon, Rwanda, Uganda and Nairobi in Kenya, ; and European destinations such as Berlin, Geneva, Milan, Rome and Vienna. The schedule also allows business travellers to make return trips between the two cities in one day, ideal for meetings and conferences.
bmi regional operates the route using its all-jet Embraer fleet and service includes at-seat full bar and meal service in addition to 30-minute check-in and 20kg hold baggage. Last year, bmi regional was named “Silver Airline of the Year” at the European Regions Airline Association (ERAA) annual awards in Austria and is noted as the most punctual scheduled airline in the UK for nine consecutive years, according to independent data used by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
“We are delighted to add Newcastle to our growing European network portfolio thanks to this new partnership with bmi regional”, said Brussels Airlines CCO Lars Redeligx. “The direct flight serving Newcastle is not only good news for Brussels Airlines passengers but also for the Newcastle region as new travel solutions to Brussels and many other destinations in Europe, Africa and the United States are now created.”
Cathal O’Connell, CEO of bmi regional, said: “Our first codeshare agreement ensures that our customers from the northeast of England now enjoy the convenience that comes with links to 52 countries served by Brussels Airlines. The new link will bring considerable commercial benefit to Newcastle and the region, not least making it easier for potential overseas investors and trade partners to visit.”
Dave Laws, Chief Executive of Newcastle International Airport, said: “This codeshare announcement is great news for travellers from Newcastle Airport. Not only can they visit Belgium and all it has to offer, but passengers can also make use of the wide range of connections to reach points on Brussels Airlines network.
“Passengers wishing to travel to Brussels can book as normal with bmi regional or with Brussels Airlines, and those wishing to travel further can make use of this Brussels Airlines agreement via the Brussels Airlines website. I’m sure this will be very popular with North East leisure and business travellers alike.”
As the largest city in North East England, Newcastle upon Tyne is internationally known for its industry and business, its university, and of course Newcastle United Football Club. The city is also worth visiting because of its historical and modern architecture, vibrant culture, nightlife and numerous shopping opportunities. Within a short travelling distance visitors can reach the cathedral City of Durham, Hadrian’s Wall and the magnificent Northumberland Coast.
Including Newcastle, Brussels Airlines offers its passengers a total of six connections in the UK. Newcastle, London Heathrow, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh are all served by Brussels Airlines.
bmi regional, the UK’s most punctual scheduled airline, launched its new service from Newcastle International to Brussels on Monday 3 March, the only direct flight to link the two cities. The route is operated by a 49-seater Embraer jet aircraft twice daily Monday to Friday and on Sunday afternoons. The flights will offer business and leisure travellers the opportunity to reach the Belgian capital in just 75 minutes from £80 per person including taxes one way.
As the aircraft touched down at Newcastle International Airport, it was welcomed to the North East by a guard of honour water salute from the Airport Fire Service. bmi regional CEO Cathal O’Connell arrived on the first flight and was greeted by guests including MEP Martin Callanan and Professor Chris Day from Newcastle University.
bmi regional offers a full in-flight service including at-seat meals and full bar selection, in addition to 20kg of checked baggage per person and thirty minute check-in at both airports. The carrier was named Silver Airline of the Year at the annual European Regions Airline Association (ERA) awards in Austria last October.
“This is our first route from Newcastle International and we’re delighted to provide the only direct flight for travellers from the North East of England to the Belgian capital,” said Cathal O’Connell, CEO at bmi regional. “Last year we launched over a dozen new routes from British airports and our new Newcastle to Brussels service opens up opportunities for those travelling for business and for pleasure.”
Dave Laws, Chief Executive of Newcastle International Airport, said: “We are delighted to celebrate the launch of this new service and our partnership with bmi regional. Since it was first announced last year, the service has been welcomed by both leisure and business travellers in the North East.
“This is a vital European connection and will help regional businesses to prosper. It will also give leisure travellers the opportunity to sample Belgium and what it has to offer.”
Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council and Leader of the LA7 Shareholders, said: “The inaugural flight of bmi regional’s service to Brussels from Newcastle Airport is great news for the region.
“The connectivity provided by this route will help many regional businesses expand their reach to Belgium and beyond. Brussels is a popular hub with a variety of connections, which I’m sure will be welcomed by North East passengers.”
Martin Callanan, MEP, said: “I am delighted that bmi regional are starting their Newcastle to Brussels route as good air links in the region are vital for the business community here. I wish this additional service every success and look forward to using it myself regularly!"
Professor Chris Day, Pro Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University, said: “The new direct route is a great opportunity, not just for ourselves but for businesses and policy makers across the region. Here at Newcastle University, it will make it easier for us to collaborate with our colleagues in Europe, particularly as we approach new opportunities through the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation fund. Newcastle University is committed to tackling some of the greatest challenges facing society today particularity in the areas of aging, sustainability and social renewal and it will help us as we look to establish new research links with leading academics in these fields.”
Brussels is renowned for its Grand Place - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - and other architectural sights including the futuristic Atomium and traditional Flemish houses, in addition to its vibrant arts and food districts. Home to the Brussels Stock Exchange, the city serves as a centre of administration for the European Union and a gateway to other cities including Antwerp, Ghent and Maastricht.
The airline carried almost 500,000 customers in 2013, having become independent from BMI in June 2012, and has pursued a sustainable expansion strategy whilst retaining full in-flight service and the highest customer service standards.