September 2022, Virtual
September 29 2022, Virtual
Now in its 27th year, the Business Travel Awards
Heathrow”s second-largest carrier, bmi, has enthusiastically welcomed the recent decision by European Union (EU) transport ministers to approve the draft open skies deal.
The agreement ” unanimously supported by all 27 ministers ” will allow EU carriers to serve US destinations on a point-to-point basis ” but not beyond ” from March next year, with the number of airlines currently serving transatlantic routes potentially rising. At present, Heathrow is limited to just four carriers, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways (BA), American Airlines and United.
BA and Virgin were initially hostile to any deal, arguing that it offered the Americans far more than they were receiving from the US, but have since softened their stance. Both in theory could launch services from any EU point to any US destination, such as Paris-New York, but the crucial element will be slot availability, particularly out of congested Heathrow.
With bmi controlling around 12% of slots at the UK”s premier airport, some have speculated that the airline could sell take-off rights to US carriers for considerable sums, but separate to that, details of its first American routes are due to be announced shortly.
”We applaud the UK government for taking the interests of UK plc and the UK travelling public seriously,” said bmi CEO, Nigel Turner. ”This was a brave move in the face of stiff opposition from the two UK airlines that have for years enjoyed a protected transatlantic market from Heathrow.
”Bmi is now ideally placed to take advantage of this major breakthrough and commence services to the US from Heathrow. This will impact not only on point-to-point traffic to the US, but on the other network competition that we will be able to provide from our domestic, European and other long-haul services.”
And support for the deal has also come from an unusual quarter, with Ryanair welcoming the agreement that could see air fares fall. ”Irish passengers will now enjoy greater choice and lower airfares on transatlantic routes [as] for years, prices have been too high because of government-controlled bi-lateral agreements,” said Ryanair head of communications, Peter Sherrard.
Image: ” BAA