Fast growing budget airline flybe claims it is now the most punctual airline operating services from from Birmingham International Airport to Belfast City.

Figures for January released yesterday by the Civil Aviation Authority place flybe ahead of rival carrier bmibaby, with 87 per cent of flights from Birmingham International Airport to Belfast City departing within 15 minutes of the scheduled time.

Mike Rutter, flybe's sales and marketing director, said: 'We are delighted to see consistent levels of punctuality on our route from Birmingham Airport.

"It is clear that our continual investment in staff training and on the ground support is paying off and it is our customers who are benefiting.

"We strive to provide a punctual, efficient service for all our passengers and these results are proof of our efforts."

The airline now operates more than 20 domestic and international routes from Birmingham, including the newly launched summer routes to Alicante, Almeria, Bergerac, Brest, Faro, La Rochelle, Malaga, Murcia Palma and Perpignan.

This year the airline's 31-strong fleet of aircraft is expected to carry 5.5 million passengers, generating revenues of £300 million.