• 17 new bmi destinations from Heathrow now on sale
• new daily direct services to Cairo, Amman and Beirut
• launches new mid-haul and long haul product enhancements
• new lie-flat beds on Riyadh, Jeddah, US and Caribbean routes
• major improvements to long-haul premium economy product
• announces plans for further expansion of mid-haul network
bmi, Heathrow’s second-largest carrier, today announced the largest-ever expansion of its route network, with the opening of sales to 17 new destinations, including Baku, Tehran, Beirut, Amman, Almaty and Yerevan. The new routes, starting 28 October 2007, will operate from Heathrow’s Terminal 1 with an improved timetable for business travellers and with a new enhanced in-flight product.
The move marks the completion of the integration of BA destinations that were operated by BMED under a franchise agreement. BMED was purchased by bmi in February 2007.
Coinciding with the launch of the new routes, the airline is to introduce major enhancements to its in-flight product. This includes improved food and drinks service on all its mid-haul and long-haul routes, new amenity kits and kids’ packs, and in-flight entertainment offering up to 22 films, including the latest blockbuster movies. Up to nine TV channels will show programming exclusive to bmi.
From mid-September, bmi will be introducing new lie-flat beds on services from Heathrow to Riyadh and to Jeddah, as well as to the Caribbean and to the United States from Manchester.
At the same time the airline will launch a much-enhanced premium economy product on services to the USA and to the Caribbean, providing travellers with a genuine business class seat in a premium economy cabin, which, with a generous 49 inch seat pitch, is 11 inches greater than that offered by competitors.
bmi also announced plans for further expansion of its mid-haul route network from next year, as the first of its additional aircraft are delivered. The deliveries are part of a US$ 750 million aircraft acquisition programme announced earlier this year.
Nigel Turner, chief executive of bmi group, said: “These new routes represent the single largest expansion of the bmi brand in the history of the airline, and mark our continuing transition into a truly global airline.
“Ten years ago, we had a network that was 100 per cent short-haul domestic and European. From the end of October, more than half of our destinations from Heathrow will be in the mid-haul and long-haul markets.
“We will serve 36 destinations from Heathrow this winter, with an in-flight product that provides the highest level of service to business and leisure travellers alike. It is a network that will particularly enhance transfer traffic as all 36 destinations will be served from Terminal 1.
“We have also identified a number of key destinations which we are eager to serve from Heathrow, including Kiev, Minsk, Kuwait City, Lahore, Tel Aviv, Dammam and Sana'a as well as increasing flights from Heathrow to Moscow. We will be seeking a number of such opportunities over the coming months.”
The full list of new routes being launched on 28 October includes Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Aleppo, Syria; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Amman, Jordan; Ankara, Turkey; Baku, Azerbaijan; Beirut, Lebanon; Bishkek, Kyrgystan; Cairo, Egypt (4 November); Dakar, Senegal; Damascus, Syria; Ekaterinburg, Russia; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Khartoum, Sudan; Tbilisi, Georgia; Tehran, Iran; Yerevan, Armenia. Services to Amman and Beirut will be served by daily direct flights, an increase over the previous BA schedule.
Peter Spencer, the new managing director of bmi’s mainline operations, added: “This is an exciting day in the history of bmi, as we develop our brand as a mid-haul and long-haul airline. It is the culmination of many months of hard work by our integration teams. This is just the start of our strategy to develop a comprehensive network of mid-haul services from London Heathrow and provide product enhancements to both mid-haul and long-haul travellers.
“We will continue to focus on maintaining our superior punctuality record at Heathrow where Civil Aviation Authority figures clearly show we outperform all other British airlines at the airport.”
Frequent flyers on these bmi services will be able to benefit from bmi diamond club which is officially the UK's most generous frequent flyer programme.
[Edited 2007-09-04 14:32:26]