bmi british midland today announced it is to seek anti-trust immunity with United Airlines, as well as a full open skies agreement, in advance of UK-US government talks next week on deregulation of the transatlantic air travel market.
The airline also confirmed, for the first time, the routes it plans to serve when deregulation allows. bmi british midland will launch services from Heathrow to its existing US gateways, Washington and Chicago, as well as Miami, Denver and Seattle.
bmi british midland and United Airlines are to press British and American transport authorities to introduce full open skies for both passenger and cargo traffic across the Atlantic immediately. With anti-trust immunity in place, they will offer true competition on a full range of UK-US routes.
Sir Michael Bishop, chairman of bmi british midland, said:
“bmi and United Airlines will be seeking full anti-trust immunity on our UK-US routes. We will press for this to be granted as soon as possible - and certainly no later than any immunity granted to BA. In doing so, we will be able to bring real competition into play across the Atlantic.
“We will also be pressing for a full open skies agreement immediately. Whilst we have always been clear that open skies was our final objective, until now we had recognised that gradual liberalisation, in the form of an interim mini-deal, was a more likely progression. However, given the latest status of BA / AA - and given that the UK government has now accepted that the “red herring” issues of domestic cabotage and foreign ownership are just that - we believe open skies is achievable.”
British and American negotiating teams meet next week to discuss liberalisation of Bermuda II, the air treaty that allows only four airlines to fly Heathrow-US routes. bmi british midland has been campaigning for three years for deregulation of the treaty, arguing that greater competition and choice is necessary.
bmi british midland already has a code-share agreement in place with United Airlines, covering 29 onward connections from its Manchester-Washington and Manchester-Chicago services.