BMI, Heathrow’s second-largest carrier, announced the largest-ever expansion of its route network, with the opening of sales to 17 new destinations.
These include Tehran, Beirut, Amman, Aleppo, Damascus, Khartoum, Dakar, Ankara, Addis Ababa, Almaty, Bishkek, Baku, Yerevan, Ekaterinburg, Freetown and Tbilisi, all being launched on October 28, while a new route to Cairo launches November 4.
The new routes, starting October 28, 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.
“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,” said Nigel Turner, chief executive of bmi group.
“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. It is a network that will particularly enhance transfer traffic as all 36 destinations will be served from Terminal 1.”
Turner added that the airline has identified a number of key destinations it is eager to serve from Heathrow, including Kiev, Minsk, Kuwait City, Lahore, Dammam and Sana'a.
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.
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 $750 million aircraft acquisition programme announced earlier this year.