British Airways to bring back Dublin-London route
Nearly a quarter of a century after pulling the plug on its services between Dublin and London Heathrow, British Airways jets will be making a reappearance on the route, probably from the autumn.
It's also likely that British Airways will eventually use its Terminal 5 building at Heathrow for its Dublin service, ditching the much-criticised Terminal 1 at the London airport. That could also pose a fresh challenge for Aer Lingus and other carriers on long-haul routes.
British Airways owner IAG, which also owns Spain's Iberia airline, recently got the all-clear to buy airline BMI from Lufthansa. Former Aer Lingus boss and British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh has previously recognised that BMI, which was once known as British Midland, has a strong brand presence in Ireland and the UK.
However, a spokeswoman for British Airways confirmed that the BMI aircraft currently serving Dublin will be repainted in British Airways livery "in the short term". It's understood that the BMI livery will continue to be used until the end of the summer.
BMI currently operates six daily services between Dublin and Heathrow, while Aer Lingus flies to Heathrow from Dublin about 12 times a day.
Aer Lingus currently has a code-share agreement with British Airways for services between Dublin and Heathrow.
Asked if British Airways will begin using Terminal 5 in Heathrow for its Dublin passengers, the spokeswoman said: "In time that will happen, but there's no immediate plan to do so."
British Airways pulled its Dublin-Heathrow and all Irish routes in March 1991 after 44 years serving the country.
At the time, it held 15pc of the then 1.5 million annual passenger traffic between Dublin and Heathrow. Ironically, the airline had come under pressure after British Midland launched a service in 1988 between the two airports.
At the time, advisors for Ryanair had approached British Airways with a view to the latter taking a stake in the then fledgling Irish carrier.
Mr Walsh has previously said that he intends retaining the service between Dublin and Heathrow after acquiring BMI.
British Airways paid £172m (€211m) for BMI, which was loss-making.