September 2022, Virtual
September 29 2022, Virtual
Now in its 27th year, the Business Travel Awards
Bmi, Heathrow”s second largest airline, has confirmed 17 new destinations with its take-over of BMED, the former British Mediterranean Airlines.
All the new services effectively start at the beginning of the winter season on Sunday 28 October (Cairo 4 November), the majority currently being flown under the old British Airways franchise arrangement.
All the BMED aircraft will have been repainted by the end of October while the staff will be seen publicly for the first time in their new uniforms on that date.
Bmi group chief executive, Nigel Turner, confirmed an investment of $750m (”375m), which will be used for the purchase of further Airbus A330 aircraft. The airline currently has three, which are used on routes from Manchester to the Caribbean and Chicago plus Heathrow to Saudi Arabia.
During September, all three aircraft will be fitted with lie flat seats and a much enhanced electronic in-flight entertainment system. The airline is the only carrier to offer on-board chefs in business class on wide-bodied aircraft.
At the same time the carrier will launch a much-enhanced premium economy product on services to the US and to the Caribbean, providing travellers with what is calls a genuine business class seat in a premium economy cabin, which, with a generous 49” seat pitch, offers at least nine inches greater leg room than that that provided by the other carriers, who have introduced this new and increasingly popular class.
Bmi, mainly in the personage of chairman Sir Michael Bishop, has been the main proponent for a change in the UK-US bilateral over the last ten years, a successful campaign resulting in the new ”Open Skies” arrangement between Europe and the United States. This becomes effective next spring.
Asked why bmi were not announcing new routes westward from Heathrow Turner was open. ”We want to see what the other airlines decide to do,” he said.
”The bilateral announcement, when it happened, actually surprised us, and came just two months after the BMED purchase. We can only tackle one major expansion at a time. North America will wait until 2009.”
New eastbound routes include daily non-stop services to Amman, Beirut and Cairo and a whole series of destinations in the former Soviet Union, the furthest, Almaty, the commercial capital of Kazakhstan, more than seven hours” flying time from Heathrow, or around the same distance as New York.
Bmi also announced plans for further expansion of its medium-haul route network from next year, as the first of its additional aircraft are delivered.
Nigel Turner was in a bullish mood: ”Ten years ago, we had a network that was 100% short-haul domestic and European. From the end of October, more than half of our destinations from Heathrow will be in the medium-haul and long-haul markets.”
”We will serve 36 destinations from Heathrow this winter, with an in-flight product that provides the highest level of service to business and leisure travellers alike. We have also identified a number of key destinations which we are eager to serve from Heathrow, including Kiev, Kuwait City, Minsk, Lahore, Tel Aviv, Dammam and Sana'a, as well as increasing flights from Heathrow to Moscow. We will be seeking a number of such opportunities during the coming months.”
The full list of new routes being launched on 28 October, includes Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Aleppo, Syria; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Amman, Jordan; Ankara, Turkey; Baku, Azerbaijan; Beirut, Lebanon; Bishkek, Kyrgystan; Cairo, Egypt (4 November); Dakar, Senegal; Damascus, Syria; Ekaterinburg, Russia; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Khartoum, Sudan; Tbilisi, Georgia; Tehran, Iran; Yerevan, Armenia. Services to Amman and Beirut will be served by daily direct flights, an increase compared to the previous BA schedule.