Flights take off to link Europe’s green cities of Bristol and Nantes

July 9, 2015

The first direct flights between Bristol and Nantes – officially two of Europe’s greenest cities – started this week as airline bmi regional launched its latest service from Bristol Airport.

The twice-weekly service – flights are on Saturday and Tuesday – has highlighted the similarities between the two cities as well as opening up two-way tourist opportunities and offering another short-break destination from the airport.

Business links between the two cities are underpinned by one Airbus factory just next to the airport in Nantes – which makes wing and body segments, and a second, less than an hour away along the estuary at the coastal town of Saint-Nazaire which makes front and centre fuselage sections.

Like Bristol, Nantes, France’s sixth largest city with a population of around 570,000 including its suburbs, boasts strong green and sustainable credentials.

The city was European Green Capital in 2013 – a title which Bristol holds this year – has invested in its transport system and regenerated its former derelict shipbuilding area.

While Bristol has its history and links with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Nantes is the birthplace of Jules Verne – giving it the opportunity to stage fascinating arts projects (many inspired by science) as a testament to the Around the World in 80 Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea author.

The new route, which also opens up the wider Loire region to air travellers, coincides with the opening of Bristol Airport’s £8.6m east terminal extension which has significantly enlarged the departure lounge, adding hundreds of additional seats as well expanding its retail and catering offer.

The launch is the latest milestone in the partnership between bmi regional and the airport and follows the introduction in April of services to Paris and Dusseldorf and the re-introduction of Milan at the beginning of the year.

These routes, in addition to existing services to Aberdeen, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt, bring to eight the number of destinations serviced by bmi regional from the airport.

The airline now has 110 staff based at Bristol  – 63 pilots, 36 cabin crew and 11 engineers – and each week it flies 3,200 people from the airport.

Bristol Airport aviation director Shaun Browne said: “We are delighted with the addition of the Nantes route to the bmi regional network. With large Airbus aerospace manufacturing sites in both Nantes and Saint-Nazaire, the route will provide enhanced connectivity which is a key business focus for us. This region of France, with Nantes as the gateway provides easy access to both the Atlantic coast and the French countryside.”

Fares to Nantes with bmi regional start from £79 one way.

The flights depart Bristol on Tuesdays at 12:20pm and arrive in Nantes at 2:30pm. The return flight leaves Nantes at 3pm, arriving in Bristol at 3:10pm. On Saturdays, the flight will depart from Bristol at 3:30pm, arriving in Nantes at 5:40pm. The Saturday return flight departs Nantes at 6:10pm, arriving in Bristol at 6:20pm.

The Saturday flights will be operated with 49-seat Embraer 145 jets, with the Tuesday flight to Nantes having a 37-seat Embraer 135.

Bristol Business News was the first flight to Nantes to discover the attractions of this fascinating city. Look out for our report on 72 hours in Nantes coming soon.



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