LIVERPOOL'S air link with London is about to take off again thanks to the Daily Post Fight for a Flight campaign.

The Daily Post understands that Belgian carrier VLM is to hold a news conference at Liverpool John Lennon Airport (JLA) tomorrow, announcing that a service will start in the New Year.

The newspaper has been campaigning for more than three months for the link with the capital to be restored.

The news comes just days after Daily Post editor Jane Wolstenholme presented a Fight for a Flight dossier to Transport Minister Dr Kim Howells containing messages of support from almost 10,000 people.

The same dossier was also used by bosses at JLA to persuade the airline of the demand for the route.

Ms Wolstenholme said: "This is fantastic news and shows what can be achieved when so many people pull together for the good of Merseyside."

Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman last night praised the Daily Post for its "vital" campaign.

She said: "This is wonderful news which shows the importance of campaigning and making a sound commercial case.

"The Daily Post has brought a wide range of people together for Fight for a Flight to make it a very focused campaign."

Ms Ellman, a Labour member of the House of Commons transport select committee, also praised Liverpool John Lennon Airport for its hard work in securing the new route.

Liverpool City Council leader Mike Storey described the announcement as "brilliant news for the city".

He added: "This victory for the city is almost wholly down to the pressure exerted by the Daily Post and the way it has rallied the business community.."

The news was enthusiastically welcomed by Liverpool Chamber of Commerce which itself has been banging the drum for the restoration of the link for several year.

Stephen Pearse, a transport policy specialist at the chamber said he was sure Merseyside's business community would give full support to the new service.

He added: "This is something we have wanted for some considerable time because it is considered essential to have a link with the capital to meet all business requirements.

"It is also important to provide further options for people in the South East to access Liverpool in the run-up to and during the Capital of Culture 2008.

"I believe the business community will support this link not just as a replacement for the train but to provide additional capacity for our expanding economy."

Liverpool John Lennon Airport yesterday declined to confirm the identity of the airline, and VLM were unavailable for comment.


BELGIAN carrier VLM was one of the airlines that said it would be interested in starting a Liverpool to London service after the Daily Post launched its "Fight for a Flight"campaign.

Now, it is understood, the airline is on the brink of launching a new service re-establishing Liverpool's airlink with the capital. That link would be with London City airport in Docklands.

A survey carried out last year on behalf of Liverpool John Lennon Airport and The Mersey Partnership revealed London City as second favourite destination behind Heathrow for a Liverpool-London service, particularly among business travellers.

VLM previously operated a twice-daily service between Liverpool Airport and London City between January and November 1994 using a 50-seat turboprop aircraft.

The service carried 12,000 passengers during that 11-month period and was growing.

But at the time London City was not as well connected as it is today and the service was axed.

It's widely believed now, however, that such a service would be viable as demand is now much greater and transport links from London City into the capital are much improved.

A new underground station at the airport is due to open next year.

Liverpool has also previously had services out of JLA to Heathrow and, most recently, easyJet's link to London Luton.

While any service from any operator to any of the capital's airports would be welcome, business and political leaders believe Heathrow would be the best option

VLM (short for Vlaamse Luchttransportmaatschappij - Flemish Airlines) was started in February, 1992, as a regional business airline offering time-saving connections between major economic centres in Europe.

It pioneered the use of London City Airport at a time when the Docklands area was little more than a wasteland. Now, with its link to Canary Wharf, it has emerged as London's fastest growing business centre.

VLM launched a service between Manchester and London City airports in September, 2002.