bmi british midland today underlined its determination to fight on behalf of consumers in response to deepening levels of co-operation between British Airways (BA) and Iberia.
Since BA and Iberia signed their first co-operative agreement in February 1999, they have put in place a series of codeshare agreements, developed joint schedules and fares between the UK and Spain and co-ordinated their sales and marketing activities.
Reports that the two airlines now intend to increase their co-operation on Heathrow to Madrid services should be of concern to passengers and will only lead to less choice and competition, unless BA is required to surrender slots at Heathrow.
Any new agreement between British Airways and Iberia on the Heathrow-Madrid route will require approval by the European Commission. bmi expects the European Commission to take every necessary action to maximise choice and competition - the best way to deliver value for money and lower air fares to passengers.
Only BA, Iberia and bmi british midland provide Heathrow-Madrid-services. If, as expected, BA is required to surrender slots at Heathrow, bmi will apply for them in order to develop its own network of services to Spain and ensure that there is a credible level of genuine competition in the European aviation market.
Sir Michael Bishop, chairman of bmi british midland, said:
“There is a trend towards alliances and consolidation in the industry, but this must never be achieved at the expense of consumers. BA and Iberia seem determined to develop a co-operative duopoly on the Heathrow-Madrid route, so BA must surrender some slots to safeguard competition and consumers.”