Bmi announced today (13 February) that is to lease two Boeing 757-200 aircraft from its Heathrow operation as it continues the search for larger machines.
The need for extra capacity has come about since bmi”s takeover of Bmed, which has seen the Heathrow-based airline take on a significantly enhanced network.
Bmi has no current 757s in its fleet and to avoid any maintenance over-complication, will ”damp lease” both 757 aircraft from Astraeus as it ramps up services to Tel Aviv and Freetown (Sierra Leone), among others.
The new aircraft will also allow bmi to upgrade its schedule, with new non-stop links to Almaty in Kazakhstan and Freetown from 1 May and increased Israeli frequency that will see six flights per week operate from Heathrow.
Using the new 757s will also enable schedule changes to bmi”s existing A321 operations, with flights from Heathrow to Ekaterinburg and Yerevan now not operating to destinations beyond those cities to improve point to point capacity.
”We strongly believe that in order to continue the development of the mid-haul network, now is the time to upgrade capacity and the aircraft range on certain routes that will clearly benefit from non-stop services,” said bmi CEO Nigel Turner.
”We also think it”s important to make the timing improvements we have identified in order to maximise their convenience and competitiveness.”
Bmi”s move has also been prompted by its continuing difficulties in obtaining the right long-haul A330 aircraft it is seeking. A spokesman confirmed to ABTN that ”it”s difficult to say ” we have been out in the market for A330s and we will continue to look.”
The carrier needs a further two long-range aircraft to improve its Heathrow operation, but it appears this may be some way off.
Bmi”s decision to acquire Bmed resulted in a huge expansion of the carrier”s network and had the effect of delaying any implementation of transatlantic services from Heathrow as a result of Open Skies liberalisation.
”The delivery of suitable A330 aircraft is a little way off and we don”t want to delay the range of service enhancements unveiled today,” said Turner.
”By leasing the two 757s, pending the sourcing of suitable A330s, we are able to accelerate our Heathrow growth and ensure we can maintain the momentum of our mid-haul route strategy.”
Bmi says its new Bmed routes ”are performing extremely well” with strong passenger growth revenue growth.
The two Boeing aircraft featuring business and economy cabins, will be leased for an initial two-year period, with an option to extend.