Strategic Meetings Summit London, 26 September,
September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
Bmi has come out with some strong words for the UK government, urging it to back the draft aviation agreement at a meeting of European Council transport ministers on 22 March, although Virgin Atlantic begs to differ.
The issue has sparked an avalanche of comment from both sides of the debate, with British Airways and Virgin suggesting that Heathrow is being sold cheaply and bmi insisting that the premier UK airport should be opened up to competition ” and lower potential fares.
Bmi has a vested interest of course in seeing a liberalised Heathrow. It currently cannot operate services to the US from the British gateway ” despite having 12% of the slots ” and would dearly love to start Heathrow long-haul flights across the Atlantic
Speaking to the UK House of Commons Transport Committee, bmi compared non-discounted, unrestricted business class fares on routes between the UK and Europe to US destinations, although the source is not mentioned. The airline claims that on average, British business travellers pay nearly 50% (49.05%) more for a business class seat than from other European cities such as Frankfurt (Lufthansa) and Amsterdam (KLM).
The carrier cites examples such as BA and Virgin charging ”5,104 (”9,813) each for a return fare to New York, compared to a Lufthansa and KLM price of ”2,490 and ”2,872 respectively to the same destination.
”It is scandalous that under the current, unlawful Bermuda II agreement, UK travellers have been forced into a position where they could be paying up to twice as much to the US compared to equivalent flights from mainland Europe,” said bmi chief executive, Nigel Turner.
”This cannot and must not continue. The British government needs to wake up and see how the current protectionist agreement is hurting UK travellers. It has knowingly supported this unlawful agreement and now is the time to act.
Virgin has hit back however, saying that Heathrow fares are more expensive as the airport”s charging regime attracts higher costs. ”Bmi needs to wake up and smell the coffee ” it does not understand there is a difference in quality ” Virgin quality is streets ahead of anything Air France or KLM offers,” said Virgin director of communications, Paul Charles.
”Bmi has a fare of ”5,235 between Manchester and Chicago in a basic business class and not a flat bed. It is also a monopoly provider [for example] on routes from Heathrow to Belfast and Hannover.
Charles said that Virgin supported opening up the market but only on the basis of ”full liberalisation.” He also maintained that bmi could scrap its Heathrow-Leeds service for example and use the slot for a JFK route. ”The UK could see hundreds of potential job losses,” he said.