TBI's shares fall as BA abandons Belfast route

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The regional airports operator TBI suffered a fresh blow yesterday after British Airways announced the scrapping of its Heathrow-Belfast route in the wake of the terrorist attacks on America.

Shares in TBI, which owns Belfast International, Luton and Cardiff International airports, fell 20 per cent to 40.5p.

The BA announcement came just two days after the French construction giant Vinci withdrew a 90p-a-share offer for TBI. Vinci's move prompted Keith Brooks, TBI's chief executive, to reassure shareholders that the events of 11 September would have "no material adverse impact" on the group this year.

Yesterday, TBI said BA's withdrawal would reduce profits by £1.6m this year and £5.3m next year – equivalent to around 10 per cent of total profits.

BA's decision is the second blow to Belfast in the last few months. Over the summer, BMI British Midland announced it would be switching flights from TBI's Belfast International airport to Belfast City airport.

Mr Brooks said: "While we are disappointed by the action that BA has taken, the 350,000 passengers affected will still need a route between Northern Ireland and London. We will be discussing this situation with other carriers."