Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey has welcomed assurances from the head of International Airlines Group Willie Walsh, that the future of the BMI Belfast City to London Heathrow flight is secure.
Lord Empey said;
“The proposed purchase of BMI from Lufthansa by IAG had prompted a great deal of concern that the Belfast City to Heathrow route might be dropped and the landing slot used for another route.
I very much welcome the assurance by Willie Walsh that the Belfast City to Heathrow route is secure because it is essential that Northern Ireland retains as many links as possible to the vital hub that is London Heathrow.
Due to concerns about the future of this route I introduced a Private Members Bill into the House of Lords – the Airports (Amendment) Bill 2011 which would amend the 1986 Airports Act. My Bill would enable the Government to direct airport operators in the interests of national air infrastructure to ensure sufficient national air infrastructure between hub and regional airports.
I shall still be piloting this Bill through the Lords, because this is a UK wide bill designed to ensure the Government has the ability to intervene to ensure the connectivity of the UK regions to London Heathrow both in the present and the future.
The Heathrow link is vital to Northern Ireland in terms of both business and leisure travellers, and it is essential that everything is done to ensure that it is retained.”