bmi Seeks to Widen Heathrow Competition

In a move aimed at bringing much needed competition to USA services from Heathrow, the UK`s second largest full service carrier bmi, has applied to the relevant Government authorities, together with Star Alliance partner United Airlines, for a blanket codeshare agreement to cover each other`s markets from Heathrow.Ê

The airlines are seeking an approval that would place the bmi code on the services of United Airlines from Heathrow to Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington as well as domestic services within the USA.Ê The United code already appears on selected UK domestic services and on services to the rest of the Europe from Heathrow, but if approved this arrangement would also allow greater commercial flexibility and competition in these markets.

Austin Reid, bmi chief executive officer, said: “We are still very much committed to operating services to the USA from Heathrow in our own right.Ê Our flights from Manchester to Chicago and Washington continue to attract customer acclaim and it is unfortunate that we continue to be denied the opportunity of bringing these benefits to passengers to the USA at Heathrow.Ê However, as an immediate remedy we feel that together with our Star partner United Airlines we can bring greater competition to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, by gaining the same level of codeshare flexibility that they enjoy with their respective US partners.
“We have decided to make this application now as, despite the fact that EU and US Transport Officials are to meet in the Autumn, we see little chance of rapid progress being made in liberalisation of the transatlantic market at Heathrow and it took the EU more than a decade to sort out its own internal free aviation market. We see this codeshare application as vital, therefore, in ensuring some element of competition is introduced as soon as possible.”

bmi and United currently codeshare on destinations in the UK and the USA, via its Manchester-Chicago and Manchester-Washington routes.