bmi plots big network expansion

bmi is expanding its route network, with the opening of sales to 17 new destinations, including Baku, Tehran, Beirut, Amman, Almaty and Yerevan.The new routes, starting 28 October 2007, will operate from Heathrow’s Terminal 1 with an improved timetable for business travellers and with a new enhanced in-flight product.

The move marks the completion of the integration of BA destinations that were operated by BMED under a franchise agreement. BMED was purchased by bmi in February 2007.

The airline is also to introduce major enhancements to its in-flight product. This includes improved food and drinks service on all its mid-haul and long-haul routes, new amenity kits and kids’ packs, and in-flight entertainment offering up to 22 films, including the latest blockbuster movies. Up to nine TV channels will show programming exclusive to bmi.

From mid-September, bmi will be introducing new lie-flat beds on services from Heathrow to Riyadh and to Jeddah, as well as to the Caribbean and to the United States from Manchester.

At the same time the airline will launch an enhanced premium economy product on services to the USA and to the Caribbean, providing travellers with a genuine business class seat with a generous 49 inch seat pitch in the premium economy cabin.

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bmi will also expand its mid-haul route network from next year, as the first of its additional aircraft are delivered. The deliveries are part of a US$ 750 million aircraft acquisition programme announced earlier this year.

Nigel Turner, chief executive of bmi group, said, “These new routes represent the single largest expansion of the bmi brand in the history of the airline, and mark our continuing transition into a truly global airline.”

“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 mid-haul and long-haul markets.”

“We have also identified a number of key destinations which we are eager to serve from Heathrow, including Kiev, Minsk, Kuwait City, 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 over 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.
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