Investment in new routes together with an upturn in leisure travellers jetting off for the Easter break helped boost the number of passengers flying on airlines within the bmi group to 733,315 in April 2003, representing a 16 per cent increase on April 2002. The overall load factor grew by five per cent over the same month last year to 67 per cent.
New routes from London Heathrow (LHR) to Alicante and Venice performed strongly following their mid-April launch, with the number of passengers exceeding budgeted levels. Holiday favourite Palma Mallorca saw passenger traffic from LHR rise by 34 per cent, while Nice grew by eight per cent. Other routes from LHR which reported growth during April include Manchester, up 21 per cent, and Brussels, up 14 per cent. Passenger growth of 35 per cent was reported between LHR and Belfast City, due in part to the consolidation of bmi services at City Airport from Belfast International. bmi is the only carrier serving Belfast from Heathrow.
bmi regional, which operates an all-jet fleet as opposed to the mixed jet/turboprop fleet of its closest competitor, continues to report consistent passenger growth on routes from Manchester to Scotland, achieving excellent punctuality.Ê Volumes between Manchester and Aberdeen rose by 25 per cent, Edinburgh 11 per cent and Glasgow five per cent.
The new Aberdeen-Norwich service, launched on 31 March to serve the important oil industry route, enjoyed a strong start, exceeding initial forecasts.
The resumption of weekend services between Edinburgh and Jersey at the start of April saw the number of passengers rise by 70 per cent over the same month last year. Daily services between the two financial centres start on 19 May.
Despite a slight downturn in passengers between Manchester and Chicago in April, due in part to the events in Iraq, the outlook for transatlantic routes is encouraging. Strong levels of advance bookings are reported for the six-days-a-week service from Manchester to Washington, which resumes on 1 June, as well as the existing Chicago route.
bmibaby marked its first birthday with figures showing that the number of passengers increased to 225,000 in April 2003, a massive fourfold increase on April 2002. Much of the growth is coming from route development, increased capacity and the opening of a new base in Cardiff last October, however there has been significant growth for the low cost carrier on routes formerly operated on a full service basis by bmi. Passenger volumes from East Midlands to Edinburgh rose by 81 per cent, Jersey by 50 per cent, Glasgow by 37 per cent and Brussels by 36 per cent.
New destinations launched by bmibaby last April have also shown considerable growth, for instance the number of passengers flying from East Midlands Airport to Prague rose by 87 per cent this year. Further passenger growth will come from services launched at new bases in Manchester this month and Teesside in the autumn.
Austin Reid, bmi chief executive, said: “April saw encouraging increases in passenger traffic on many routes, particularly those serving leisure destinations during the Easter period. This is a positive development in light of world events during the month - conflict in Iraq and the continuation of the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
“We are continuing to invest in new routes across the range of our business streams, however, we are equally focused on ensuring that we keep a firm control over costs throughout the operation. This will ensure that, despite the challenging times the industry faces, we are well placed to meet the needs of all our customers.”
developments in April:
á bmi launched new routes from London Heathrow to Venice and Alicante. bmi regional started services between Aberdeen and Norwich, and resumed weekend services from Edinburgh to Jersey. bmibaby began flying from Cardiff to Toulouse.
á major new advertising campaign launched featuring a family of animated birds, positioning bmi as the smart choice for flyers. Key message to consumers is that bmi represents `value without compromise`. Campaign includes TV, outdoor poster sites, press and online advertising, direct mail and trade marketing.
á Web bookings during April doubled over the same month last year. Customers are being encouraged to book early via the website, www.flybmi.com, for the best fares.
á diamond club, bmi`s frequent flyer programme, announced the move from a points to a mileage based currency. The change results in a simpler scheme with greater and more flexible competitive benefits over rival airline loyalty programmes, and brings it into line with other Star Alliance carriers.
á bmibaby named its fourth base as Teesside. Services from the North East airport will begin in October.
á bmi made aviation history when one of its passengers became the first commercial airline passenger ever to have an electrocardiogram (ECG or heart trace) recorded in flight and transmitted by satellite to physicians on the ground. bmi installed the Tempus 2000 system on its Airbus A330s just a year ago. The passenger was treated successfully by cabin staff, acting on advice from doctors in Phoenix, Arizona, and after a short stay in hospital made a full recovery at home. á bmi announced its sponsorship of three major golfing tournaments and the Barbarians rugby tour. bmi is named the official airline to the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth in May, and the Smurfit European Open at the K Club in Ireland and the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond in July. The Lloyds TSB Barbarians tour sees the world-famous team face England at Twickenham on 25 May, Scotland at Murrayfield on 28 May, and Wales at Cardiff`s Millennium Stadium on 31 May.