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A Scottish travel chief has warned that the loss of Bmi’s Glasgow-London Heathrow service would lead to a BA monopoly on the route and an inevitable increase in air fares.
The Lufthansa-owned airline is considering cancelling the route, which it claims loses up to £1 million a month.
Brian Potter, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), said: “If Bmi pull out of the route then our greatest concern is that we’re only left with British Airways.”
It means there would be no competition, he warned: “The fares would go up and at times of strike or bad weather BA cancels their domestic services first, so we would be left with no connectivity at all.”
The withdrawal of Bmi from Glasgow would also mean the loss of connectivity with Star Alliance, said Potter.
“The Scottish travel trade is obviously very concerned... the Heathrow link is vital,” he said.
Bmi is reviewing the viability of its domestic services, blaming Heathrow owner BAA’s decision to increase the airport charges imposed on domestic flights from April 1.
Potter criticised the airport operator’s lack of consultation: “It appears that Ferrovial, who own the airport, is able to introduce new airline charges without any government intervention.
“That for us politically is fundamentally wrong, because it means they can control who goes in and out of Heathrow without any cogniscance of what the UK actually needs.”
He said that as Bmi is already struggling on the route, the new charges will increase the air fares on the route and make it even less viable.
“I think we also have to acknowledge that Bmi could come off the route, even if these charges weren’t coming in. At best I think we’re looking at a reduced schedule rather than a total withdrawal,” he added.
When speaking to ABTN, Glasgow airport distanced itself from any decision taken by Bmi. A spokeswoman for the airport said:
“We work alongside all of our airline partners, trying to make Glasgow as competitive as possible. However, any decision to withdraw or cancel a route or service ultimately is the decision of the airline.”
She said the route was “very much operating” at this stage, and if Bmi chose to leave Glasgow, “other airlines would look to replace the route.”