Just over one year on and bmi british midland is celebrating the success of its transatlantic flights from Manchester to Washington and Chicago with a maximum five star rating for its service in the May 2002 issue of Business Traveller magazine.
Ten airlines were surveyed in total on areas covering, first impressions, boarding, the seat, the flight, verdict and star rating. Comments on a flight to Washington include:
”’ ... After being seated and offered a drink, we were handed headphones in an attractive case, which were comfortable and well-designed to block outside noise.’”
”’ ... There were four rows of seats ... which offered ample legroom. They reclined to near flat and the footrest and seat back were easy to manage.’”
“‘The tray table and screen were large and well designed so that they could be used and moved around at the same time. The flight entertainment was great, ... The food was the highlight, prepared by an on-board chef.’”
”’ I arrived feeling relaxed and well-fed thanks to the comfortable seats, good food and helpful staff’”.
bmi has brought choice and competition to the consumer on transatlantic flights from Manchester and with it has come lower more flexible fares. The airline has a strong base from which to move forward and is currently evaluating additional Manchester US routes. However, the airline strongly believes that more could be delivered for the North West if it was allowed to complement Manchester routes by also providing Heathrow - US services.
In a letter to North West Member’s of Parliament updating them on the first anniversary of transatlantic routes from Manchester, Sir Michael Bishop CBE, chairman bmi british midland wrote:
“Despite having the capability and infrastructure at Heathrow, bmi is prevented from flying to the US from that airport under the current regulatory regime. If we were allowed to do so, it would help secure the long-term development of our Manchester-US services and allow us to accelerate the scope of our Manchester operations.
“The government is currently considering its position on the regulation of UK-US air services, which are among the most restrictive in the world. We hope that the government will reach a liberalised agreement with the US at the earliest opportunity, as this will not only benefit consumers wishing to fly across the Atlantic from Heathrow - it will also bring greater long term confidence and certainty to bmi’s Manchester operation.”
Despite the extremely challenging conditions that coincided with the launch of services to Washington and Chicago from Manchester, bmi remains committed to its transatlantic services. This commitment is further enhanced by a number of achievements so far, these include:
passenger numbers topping 180,000 on the two routes
the establishment of a 51% market share on the Chicago route, marking the end of the American Airlines monopoly on the route
fares from London Heathrow to Washington being driven down due to bmi’s entry onto the route from Manchester with business fares upto 75% cheaper than the same fare offered from Heathrow by its rivals
recent load factors of 70% on transatlantic flights