Durham Tees Valley Airport have launched a lawsuit against the UK carrier BMI Baby, the budget arm of British Midland (BMI), after alleging that the airline has broken a contractual agreement with the airport.
According to the airport, BMI agreed in writing that, from 2003, they would make 30 flights a week from Durham Tees Valley to ten short-haul destinations. The airport claims that the airline agreed to transport passengers from the North-East airport using two Boeing 737 aircraft for ten consecutive years, paying fees based on passenger numbers. It is alleged, however, that shortly after the agreement was made, BMI began flying just one Boeing 737 from the airport each week, failing to ensure that the aircraft was full, before suspending the flights altogether late in 2006 (seven years before the contract was due to expire).
Durham Tees Valley, part of the Peel Airport Group, claims that by ending the routes before the contract was up BMI has caused the airport to lose £12,523,686 and it is now attempting to get compensation from the airline. BMI, the second largest carrier at Heathrow, has responded to the allegations, maintaining that it will not look to reach a compromise, but will “vigorously defend its position in court”.
The news follows a recent announcement that the airline’s majority stakeholder, Sir Michael Bishop, is looking to sell his 50% share in British Midland before the end of the year. Lufthansa, who already holds 29% of the shares, has expressed an interest in buying the airline.