bmi, the UK’s second largest full service airline, is attracting more passengers than ever thanks to its low cost fare strategy and the public’s changing attitudes to flying.
The number of passengers travelling with bmi and bmibaby rose by 32 percent in October, compared to the same month last year. bmi saw an increase of 26 per cent in the full service sector of the business. Load factors for bmi and bmibaby increased 10 percentage points to 67 per cent.
Continued growth in domestic and short-haul services is partly attributed to consumers’ changing attitudes to flying and growing uptake of bmi’s new lower fares. Key parts of the national rail network are currently undergoing major weekend engineering works, with inevitable cancellations and delays. Increasingly travellers are recognising the convenience of short haul flights, especially with the key, easily accessible airports bmi operates to and from, and the cost effectiveness of bmi’s new lower one-way fares.
Domestic services experiencing strong passenger growth include London Heathrow to Belfast, which increased by 66 per cent. Heathrow to Manchester showed a 52 per cent increase, and to Edinburgh a 37 per cent rise.
Services between Manchester and Scotland reported significant increases, together with outstanding punctuality compared to competitors on the routes. Flights to Glasgow grew by 85 per cent, to Edinburgh by 55 per cent, and to Aberdeen by 43 per cent.
Services from London Heathrow to mainland European destinations experienced growth, with Milan Linate up 59 per cent, and Paris up 39 per cent.
Transatlantic services from Manchester also continue to grow, with an overall increase of 62 per cent. The number of passengers flying to Chicago soared by 87 per cent last month with Washington 37 per cent up. However, advance bookings indicate a reduced demand for Washington during the winter period.
A major seat sale during October shattered the record for the number of bookings in a single day with a staggering 90 per cent increase on the previous record at flybmi.com. The two-week promotion offered 500,000 seats at £19 and £29 one way on routes out of London and Manchester. The most popular destinations included Amsterdam, Dublin and Paris.
Austin Reid, chief executive officer, bmi said:
“October’s year on year figures demonstrate that our positive response to a rapidly changing market continues to pay dividends. The introduction of a one way fare strategy offers travellers the flexibility and cost effectiveness they have come to expect in an era of low cost air travel, whilst continuing to provide a full service operation which is clearly still in great demand by the travelling public.
“Our autumn seat sale featured prices which, a few years ago, would have been unheard of in this sector of the business. The results were better than expected, with the public responding overwhelmingly to the offer. The increasing use of the website for bookings shows great potential for the future and is an area we shall continue to develop and promote.
“We remain confident in these challenging times, and continued growth shows that we are and will continue to be a major competitive force in the UK aviation industry.”
Much of the bmi growth has come from existing services and has not been inflated by new or discontinued routes and destinations that can sometimes distort a true picture of performance.