BMI Threat Over UK Domestic Routes

January 24, 2011

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British airline bmi is threatening to withdraw UK domestic routes from Heathrow Airport in a protest against the BAA decision to increase landing charges.

Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, the airline’s chief executive, said bmi had drawn up an alternative strategy which would see passengers from regional UK airports being routed through hub airports in continental Europe operated by its parent company Lufthansa.

He said that the slots freed at Heathrow would be used for more profitable routes to the Middle East and Africa.

Speaking about the BAA charge rise plan Prock-Schauer has been quoted as saying: "If this doesn’t get reversed we have a plan ready to shift capacity to more promising routes in continental Europe and the Middle East.

"Traffic can be routed from the UK regions," he added.

The airline is planning to challenge the charge increases in the courts arguing that they violate industry agreements.

It is angry that landing charges for the Airbus A380 are lower than those imposed on smaller aircraft such as the A319 and the Boeing 737.

The changes would see bmi, which is being rebranded as British Midland International, would see the airline withdrawing its five-a-day flight service between Heathrow and Glasgow.

Scottish business leaders and politicians have expressed dismay over the moves saying that the route is vital for business in Scotland's largest city.

Keith Brown, the Scottish Government transport minister has written to his Westminster counterpart Philip Hammond to express concerns over the airline's plans.

Some reports have suggested that bmi is losing GBP£1 million (USD$1.6 million) a month on the London-Glasgow route.

Mr Prock-Schauer said the airline would maintain a strong presence in the UK serving major cities such as Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Belfast.

(Ken Symon)