Belgian’s VLM Airlines to take on Birmingham to Waterford air route

A VLM Airlines Fokker 50, which will be used on the Birmingham-Waterford route

A VLM Airlines Fokker 50, which will be used on the Birmingham-Waterford route

Belgian regional carrier VLM Airlines is to take on the Birmingham to Waterford air route – one of seven due to be axed by budget airline Flybe.

Waterford was one of two Irish routes set to be discontinued by Flybe, the other being Ireland West (Knock) but uncertainty remains over the future of that service.

As yet no other airline has stepped in to take it over with the Flybe service finishing last month.

VLM Airlines will start its Waterford service from April 27 with flights four times a week on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays.

The airline said the Birmingham-Waterford service would complement its Waterford-London Luton route, which starts on the same day.

The development represents good news for Birmingham Airport, following an announcement by Flybe at the beginning of February that it was axeing seven services.

The shock move meant the airport lost five destinations from its roster – Norwegian capital Oslo, Porto, Toulouse, Ireland West and Waterford.

Flybe is also scrapping its routes to Hamburg and Perpignan from Birmingham, although flights to those cities are available with other operators.

Arthur White, CEO of VLM Airlines said: “Adding the Waterford-Birmingham route to our expanding network is another example of VLM listening to what passengers want.

“With these new scheduled flights we are continuing to focus on business and leisure travellers, providing them with fast, practical connections between the cities.”

The news was welcomed by both Waterford and Birmingham airports.

Desmond O’Flynn, CEO of Waterford Airport said: “We are delighted that VLM will continue the highly successful Birmingham service which has operated at the airport for many years.

“The provision of this service will further enhance VLM’s arrival at Waterford and reinforce its presence in the airport’s surrounding catchment in the south east of Ireland.”

Birmingham Airport’s CEO Paul Kehoe added: “This new four-times weekly service between Birmingham and Waterford is a welcome addition to our existing network of flights to Ireland.

“Due to the strong links between the two regions and the choice offered to passengers, allowing them to return the same day, we’re confident this new route will prove to be very popular with the business and leisure market.”

Flybe pledged there would be no job losses as a result of the changes it announced and said it was also introducing two new routes to Biarritz and Corsica.

At the time a spokesperson for the airport said it was in discussions with other airlines in a bid to continue services to the five destinations affected by the Flybe move.

She said: “We are continually discussing routes with partner airlines and hope to be able to fill Flybe’s cancelled routes.”

Bosses at Ireland West Airport will be keen to see the route to Birmingham continue.

It has been a staple on the airport’s timetable since it opened and is popular with the many people with west of Ireland connections in the Midlands.

The route is also promoted to Irish leisure travellers.

On its website the airport says: “Sample all that the wonderful city of Birmingham has to offer – a world class cultural scene, superb shopping, top attractions, fantastic nightlife, major international events and access to some of England’s most beautiful countryside.”

Midlanders wishing to travel to Ireland West can still avail of a four times a week Ryanair Service from East Midlands Airport.