Durham Tees Valley Airport stands to recover millions of pounds in lost revenue, after defeating budget airline, BMIbaby, in a landmark legal battle. The carrier pulled its planes out of Durham in 2006, costing the airport ‘huge sums’ in retail profits and landing fees, and breaching a service contract with current owner, Peel Airports.
The ruling, which was made at the Appeals Court, entitles Durham to sue BMIbaby for upwards of £11,585,306 – a strange number, but one that reflects the amount of money the airport lost because of BMIbaby’s premature departure. The carrier will also be liable for an additional £1m in legal fees.
Airport bosses lamented the need to sue their former partner, claiming that BMI’s withdrawal was both avoidable and unnecessary, but Hugh Lang, director at Peel Airports, was pleased with the result, ‘Today’s judgment totally vindicates the action we have been pursuing for the last three and a half years. We are very pleased that significant damages are now due to the airport to compensate us for our loss.’ The ruling represents a significant change of direction for the Appeals Court, which had criticised Durham’s ‘vague and uncertain’ contract terms in the past, and dropped all charges against BMIbaby.
The amount of money payable to Durham will now be decided by the High Court in the coming months. BMI intends to challenge the decision.
Durham’s victory should bring some solace to other airports that have been dumped by budget airlines, such as Robin Hood and East Midlands. The two airports were abandoned by Ryanair and EasyJet respectively, late last year.