Bmi says it will continue to evaluate the Heathrow market as it settles down following the start of Open Skies next month.
The carrier ” Heathrow”s second largest ” is biding its time as a raft of ” mainly American ” airlines rush to the airport to take advantage of the 30 March Open Skies implementation.
”We are waiting to see how the Heathrow market develops with the new entrants to the US,” bmi deputy chief executive Tim Bye, told ABTN.
”We are carrying out a lot of strengthening by putting our code on all United Airlines” transatlantic services and are generating a surprising number of bookings.”
Bmi is making good use of codeshare deals, equally putting its number on US Airways flights from Heathrow to Philadelphia from 30 March and also on fellow Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand for its Los Angeles-London operations.
”It”s not a surprise that people wanted to have Heathrow services,” said Bye, [but] ”that is why we were cautious about jumping in with both feet ” it”s a wise thing to take stock.”
Bmi has also had a frenetic period integrating the Bmed fleet into its timetable ” but the benefits have already become clear.
”We are seeing some good year-on-year growth,” said Bye, ”and it [the integration] went without a hitch. We are adding Tel Aviv in March and a second Moscow service ” mid-haul business is growing organically with additional routes.”
The one fly in the ointment however, as bmi grows, is the tricky question of long-haul aircraft acquisition. The airline continues to scour the globe for Airbus A330s ” ”like hen”s teeth” as Bye put it ” in a bid to strengthen its existing Heathrow operations and possibly as it looks to start London-US flights.
Bye was speaking to ABTN at the Institute of Directors (IoD) in central London ” a body with whom it has today launched a report on business leaders” views on air travel. The survey unsurprisingly revealed that 70% of UK businesses support airport expansion while perhaps more surprisingly those same businesses appear willing to pay more for air travel on environmental grounds. The report, entitled ”High Fliers: Business leaders” views on air travel,” surveyed 500 IoD members.