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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 September 2006, 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK
Low-cost airline cancels routes
bmibaby plane
The airline has two aircraft based at Durham Tees Valley
Budget airline bmibaby is scrapping its flights from the north-east of England, because of a shortage of passengers.

The carrier began operations at Durham Tees Valley Airport in 2003, quickly expanding, with the introduction of a second aircraft and eight destinations.

Operations will be scaled down from October, a move which will is likely to mean the loss of 50 jobs.

Airport bosses described the move as "quite inexplicable" and questioned bmibaby's route development.

The airline operates services to Alicante, Malaga, Palma, Cork, Newquay, Jersey, Paris and London Gatwick.

The bmi group's mainline service from Durham Tees Valley to London Heathrow will continue to operate.

Crawford Rix, bmibaby's managing director, said: "We are extremely disappointed that despite our considerable efforts we are unable to sustain our low-cost operation from Durham Tees Valley Airport.

'Minimise disruption'

"Since launching flights from the airport nearly three years ago we have invested significant amounts of money locally in marketing and advertising support.

"Unfortunately the commitment we have made has not produced the support in sufficient numbers of passengers.

"The decision was not taken lightly and our priority now is to minimise any disruption to customers booked on flights after the termination of services. They will receive a full refund."

A spokesman for Durham Tees Valley Airport said: "Today's announcement is quite inexplicable, bearing in mind the current volume of passengers being carried by the airline.

"It was only in April 2006 that bmibaby doubled its capacity out of the airport, with the introduction of a second based aircraft to meet passenger demand. This makes the decision all the more confusing.

"The speed of this turnaround is a shock and must raise questions over the consistency of bmibaby's route network development strategy."

Durham Tees Valley has recently spent 1.3m on revamping the frontage of the airport, which reported a passenger increase of more than 13% in 2005. It expects to see three million passengers by 2015.

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