Sir Michael Bishop, chairman of bmi today hailed “the dawn of a new era of competition from Heathrow”, with the launch of bmi’s new Heathrow-Mumbai services.
The four times-weekly service, starting on Saturday 14 May, marks the first new long-haul competition by a new UK carrier from Heathrow for 14 years.
Speaking at a press briefing in advance of the launch of services, Sir Michael said:
“bmi has a proud history of firsts at Heathrow. We were the first airline to compete with British Airways on the major UK trunk routes in the early 1980s. We were the first airline to bring competition to major European routes from Heathrow in the 1980s and 1990s. And now we are proud to be bringing the first new long-haul competition from a UK carrier to Heathrow for more than a decade.”
Sir Michael pointed to the benefits that competition has brought to the Heathrow - Mumbai route, following deregulation by the Indian and UK governments late last year. Business travellers can now travel for up to 15 per cent less and leisure travellers can save up to 25 per cent compared to pre-deregulation fares, he said.
“On every route that we have launched over the last 25 years, we have seen fares fall as a result of our services. Heathrow - Mumbai is no exception.
“Fares for both leisure and business travellers are significantly lower than before the UK - India deregulation, providing a strong stimulus for trade and tourism between the two countries,” said Sir Michael.
The Heathrow - Mumbai services add to bmi’s growing long-haul network - which already includes services from Manchester to Chicago, Washington, Las Vegas, Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua - and Sir Michael confirmed that long-haul routes would be a major element of growth for the business in the future.
“Our award-winning services from Manchester have proven we can deliver a world-class long-haul product. Now we want to expand our offer from Heathrow.
“We have long campaigned for the right to bring new competition to key long-haul routes from Heathrow, and we will continue to do so. We hope to start services to Riyadh later this year, and as a consequence of further deregulation in the Indian market we are now evaluating options which will allow us to further develop our route network from Heathrow to India. The priority, however, is to increase our Mumbai service to a daily frequency as part of the winter 2005/06 programme.”