Birmingham Airport - General Thread

HPsauce

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Feb 11, 2020
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I can remember many years ago, 1970's i think?, when High Streets were full of Travel Agents, some in-house and some independent. I carried out a little personal 'test' to see whether a theory of mine may have been true.
I asked for information on flights to Brussels from Birmingham, knowing full well that British Midland operated direct flights twice daily. I was told by the agent that i could fly with British Airways (BEA) to Heathrow and change to a flight to Brussels with BEA or Sabena!!. No mention whatsoever of the direct BMA flights!!. I think this was typical of the time and although flights are booked very differently now through online, it highlights the problems provincial airports faced building route networks.
While direct long distance routes are on our wish list, we must ensure we maintain and build on our links to major hubs, i.e. Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam Brussels and hopefully Lisbon. All this of course when normality returns!.
 

nwoody2001

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Dec 1, 2014
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There are surveys done from time to time (the last one by the CAA was pretty interesting) and I guess you could also analyse postcodes supplied at the time of booking. I'm sure that the route development people have their own ways of collating data.

If X number of people each year with a Midlands postcode use LHR to get to a particular destination does that tell an airline 'wow, the demand is huge from that area we need to be there' or 'wow, even with an airport on their doorstep all these people are still willing to come to us'?

If you have the same number of people choosing to use a connection does it then show that airline that people want to use their local airport and are willing to make a stop en route rather than a surface journey to London and if they want that market they need to come and get it?



Incentives seem to be the name of the game at the moment and I guess there are a number of different ways that new routes can be aided. Marketing support, waiving of fees and charges and minimum revenue guarantees are just some of them, I'm sure that there must be plenty more. The problem is it can become a race to the bottom and I think we've learnt over the years that BHX doesn't go there.

Part of me completely respects that and thinks good on them for standing their ground, another part of me thinks that this is the world we live in now and BHX needs to adapt or get left behind.

An herein lies the catch22 in my eyes.

Look at emirates as a fine example. Emirates first launched LHR and then launched MAN before launching BHX. Emirates is an airline that well look to see where their passenger live and actively launches new routes to a) mark their territory and b) capitalise their catchment. I would argue that it was only through the success of the DXB routes at both LHR and MAN that Emirates had enough data to say "wow, 22% of our pax from LHR/MAN come from the Birmingham region, lets explore launching flights from there?!?"

Consequently, many of us hate it when LHR/MAN are picked over BHX, and complain why is BHX overlooked. But in a world where airlines will have more catchment data than local airports would, we sometimes need those routes out of LHR/MAN to succeed for the airlines to see theres an opportunity out of BHX.

BHX has no way of knowing accurately how many people fly from the midlands to HKG. BHX do know how many people fly BHX-XXX-HKG but will never know how many people travel from the midlands to use MAN-HKG, LHR-HKG or who self connect through AMS, BRU, CDG to HKG. The people that will know that information however is Cathey Pacific who know where all their passengers live and come from! Consequently, instead of wishing MAN routes are failures, we almost need them to be the opposite because if a route is a success from MAN/LHR and they pick BHX to be their next route, it is likely based on data and not as much as a risk!

We may not like it, but the reality is that LHR/MAN and to a degree EDI (although that serves a totally different market) will always be picked before BHX, but what we need is:

a) to build a robust European network for BHX to increase Pax levels and data for the airport
b) focus on growth at short/medium haul hubs (ranging from AMS/CDG as well as IST/DXB/DOH) to give BHX the long-haul data the airport needs to attract airlines (this is where the MAN-LHR is a great asset as MAN has the data for all their LHR connections, one of the biggest/busiest hub airports in the world) and;
c) hope key long-haul routes are a success from MAN and reach a critical mass to expand...

Just my thoughts....
 

JENNYJET

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BHX is a regional with global ambitions, this is the narrative we are fed by the airport that regularly loses routes to even the mundane destinations. Imagine the excitement over Easyjet opening a domestic service whilst up the M6, they regularly celebrate a new long haul service. The current ownership and their directors appear to living comfort over expansion, safe with their dividend but Covid should be making them fall out of bed at night in a muck sweat over having to pay off more ground staff for the lack of carriers appreciating BHX as a well situated alternative to London or Manchester.

That is off my chest also!
 

rollo

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Aug 26, 2014
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An excellent argument put forward by nwoody with which I pretty much completely agree with but one thing is bugging me is the old chestnut of BHX to Orlando.

Over recent years BHX has had a single summer only weekly service byTUI while Virgin for example operate(d) up to double daily 747s from MAN year round and similar from London so surely they could see a large demand from BHXs catchment yet show no interest at all. Additionally there are/were large operations to Florida from Manchester and Gatwick/ Heathrow by the likes of TUI,TCX plus BA and others who would inevitably also be attracting many Brummies which Virgin would aware of.

I can only assume Virgin are happy with what they have and the fact that so many Midlanders are prepared to travel up or down the motorway for a couple of hours.
 

Jerry

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Over recent years BHX has had a single summer only weekly service byTUI while Virgin for example operate(d) up to double daily 747s from MAN year round and similar from London so surely they could see a large demand from BHXs catchment yet show no interest at all. Additionally there are/were large operations to Florida from Manchester and Gatwick/ Heathrow by the likes of TUI,TCX plus BA and others who would inevitably also be attracting many Brummies which Virgin would aware of.
For based UK airlines it might be a bit different in that they would have to either base an aircraft or position one in place either via a W pattern or positioning flight whereas the likes of Emirates or Cathay Pacific don't have to do that.
 

Ray Finkle

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Orlando is the prime example of let the customers travel to us, I refuse to believe that BHX cannot profitably support more than one direct flight per week. Emirates and to a lesser extent Qatar are after large volumes of transit traffic and have the network to support it, they even serve NCL (5mppa) and CWL (1.6mppa). For years we've had interviews at route conferences mentioning demand to such places Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Mumbai yet we're still waiting. Birmingham was even mentioned as the second biggest unserved market from HKG but a direct flight never happened.

I totally agree about short/medium haul hubs and the data they may bring but I'd argue that they've always been a strong point of BHX? There aren't many places that can boast multiple daily flights with Lufthansa, Brussels, Austrian, Air France, KLM, Swiss, Turkish Airlines, SAS, Aer Lingus, Emirates and Qatar yet despite that BHX has been losing long haul routes not gaining them. It's the loco flights and destinations that BHX seems to lack.

Getting people to choose a longer journey time by making a connection, often paying more for it, over a direct flight from LHR has always been a tough ask. Paul Kehoe said that they were trying to change human behaviour and that is a very difficult thing to do.
 

JENNYJET

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It has been a while but I think as I always do, independent travel agents are more likely to enable a flight from Birmingham instead of forcing a trip North or South to a more fashionable or profitable departure point. I can understand the chains selling their own seats with parent carrier and sadly, customers swallow the guff and accept it. It is this attitude that led me to Kuoni, they always moved the Earth to get me a flight that was NOT brochured, a phone call and the booking was secured!
 

Matty_85

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I agree we want MAN & London airports to be successful too with airlines but the reality is we don’t want them poaching passengers who would have otherwise flew from BHX. Airlines manage to build a base knowing BHXs catchment will travel to another airport so where’s the incentive to establish themselves here? I really think we need to demand better (by which our airport leaders need to).

Despite covid MAN has managed to replace Thomas Cook US flights in just over a year. Birmingham lost AA, United (I’ve read a proposed double daily Monarch?) and primera air. Yet we couldn’t convince Norwegian, JetBlue, BIMAN (connection route to JFK) & now Aer lingus. I know we don’t have the resources like Manchester but we do have the catchment & potential for a much larger slice of the long haul market (& short haul for that matter)
 

JENNYJET

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America's finest have been and gone and Britain's finest are not interested leaving the Asian and European operators to open a link accross to pond but the new ultra efficient twinjets have removed the need for staging posts. Not everything modern is good but is fact and we adapt.
 

HPsauce

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We certainly won't be getting any long distance routes from Norwegian. They have just abandoned all long haul routes. 1100 people losing jobs. They will concentrate on European operations.
 

JENNYJET

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They, and other operators, will take lessons from this but I think low cost long haul could work. Instead of owning or leasing a shiny new aircraft why not enter arrangements with established airlines and block book sections of cabins for no frills passengers, closed off from full fare with separate boarding so the major operating costs are carried by the airline with the AOC?
 

Coathanger16

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We certainly won't be getting any long distance routes from Norwegian. They have just abandoned all long haul routes. 1100 people losing jobs. They will concentrate on European operations.

No long haul, but they are focussing more on their European operation, so fingers crossed we may get some Scandinavian routes from them.

Oslo, Stockholm & Helsinki would do well with 3/4 flights a week I'd have thought (once recoveries well underway).
 

jfy1999

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They, and other operators, will take lessons from this but I think low cost long haul could work. Instead of owning or leasing a shiny new aircraft why not enter arrangements with established airlines and block book sections of cabins for no frills passengers, closed off from full fare with separate boarding so the major operating costs are carried by the airline with the AOC?
Interesting idea. Code sharing between LCCs and “legacy” airlines already works on short haul in a few cases such as with the IAG group of airlines. But in that particular case the economy product on the “legacy” airlines is becoming pretty indistinguishable from a no frills airline anyway. It would likely add extra cost and logistical issues with crew for both companies to keep switching the economy product from no-frills to full service on an ad hoc basis.

I’d say the biggest issue would be that the full service airline would want financial compensation from the low cost carrier to make up for the revenue that the full service airline would otherwise have made selling full service economy tickets. I doubt a full service airline would be willing to let the low cost airline block book tickets below the full service economy rate, in which case the low cost airline would be loss making if it sold on the seats for a lower price.
 

JENNYJET

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Yes JFY, but if such seats were sold as premium by the low cost outfit then the carrier could match economy accordingly. Whatever arrangements, the tickets would be marketed by the low cost outfit as a cheap offer compared to standard but without the usual benefits of full service such as baggage allowance, alternative flights within the main carrier and booking changes etc.!
 
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