While the package holiday market continues to suffer, the independent travel market is growing and the Balearics is the target of yet more new no-frills airline connections with the United Kingdom. The low-cost airline Bmibaby - a division of British Midland - is planning to operate cheap, no-frills scheduled services out of Cardiff airport. The low Cost airline already operates to Palma and Ibiza from East Midlands but intends to launch the new Cardiff connections this winter. The opening up of Cardiff airport will provide the Balearics with a whole new catchment area and the news is a major boost for the airport and will bring an estimated million extra passengers to the terminal every year. Bmibaby launched its services in March 2002 from East Midlands Airport, and currently runs routes to nine international destinations including Palma, Ibiza, Barcelona, Dublin, Nice and Prague. The airline is planning to base two Boeing 737s at Cardiff Airport this winter as part of this deal, details of the destinations to be served will be released later this year. Bmibaby is the fastest-growing no-frills airline, challenging carriers such as Easyjet, Ryanair and Go in the booming low-cost market, which has been making profits when the established airlines such as British Airways were losing money. The sector has also survived the shake-up of the airline industry in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks and many of the low-cost airlines have posted record growth figures over the past six months. We are determined to provide travellers from Cardiff with all of the advantages of low cost travel to an exciting range of destinations, said Tony Davis, bmibaby managing director.
Cardiff International has a large potential catchment area in both Wales and England, and I am convinced that they will give bmibaby the same resounding thumbs up that we have seen at our East Midlands base. The airport is well placed to cope with the rapid growth in passengers we intend to bring to the airport.