Simon Hale reports on a significant arrival at Birmingham Airport.
American Airlines has celebrated its inaugural direct service between Birmingham and New York’s John F Kennedy Airport.
The first of the Boeing 757 daily flights arrived into Birmingham half an hour early to a water arch greeting from two of the airport’s fire engines.
Elizabeth Safrit, the reigning Miss United States and winner of the Americas section of last year’s Miss World contest, cut a ceremonial ribbon and then a cake in the shape of the Empire State Building in front of VIPs, passengers and the media to officially launch the service.
The dignitaries included the Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands Paul Chandrasekharan Sabapathy CBE and Birmingham’s Deputy Lord Mayor Mike Leddy.
David Thomas, Director of Sales for UK and Ireland at American Airlines, said: “This flight is going to open up opportunities for many more Americans to experience all that Birmingham has to offer. We really wanted to focus on Birmingham as there are a lot of small, medium and large corporations that are developing here and the economy is vibrant. That means we have got strong corporate travel and we also get people who can afford to take nice holidays in the United States.”
He added: “So far the flight has been doing very well with bookings and we appreciate all the support. In particular, without the partnership and support of Birmingham Airport – definitely the best airport I have ever worked with – this flight would not have happened.”
The route, which complements the city’s existing direct service to Newark operated by United Airlines, is expected to provide nearly 100,000 seats a year.
Through the American Airlines and British Airways joint business and Oneworld airline alliance, the service offers a BA code share, enabling customers to earn and redeem BA air miles and Avios points.
The American Airlines flight arrives from New York JFK into Birmingham at 7.00am and departs for the return leg at 9am.