BMI joins price war by cutting domestic fares

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The Independent Online

BMI British Midland, the country's second-biggest scheduled airline, yesterday responded to the price war on domestic routes sparked off by British Airways by announcing deep fare cuts of its own.

The fare reductions match those announced last month by BA and take effect immediately on a number of BMI services to and from Heathrow.

In addition to the fare cuts, BMI is also introducing more flexible tickets and dropping the requirement that passengers stay a Saturday night.

Economy fares to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Teesside will start from £34 each way, while the fare to Belfast will be £29 each way and to Leeds/Bradford £40 each way. There will also be additional discounts for fares booked on the internet.

BMI was already facing heavy losses this year as a result of increased competition from the budget airlines. BA's decision to join the price war is likely to exacerbate the airline's financial position.

Separately, the group's new low-cost airline, bmibaby, announced that it had exceeded its own passenger forecasts in the first month of operation and was adding three routes from its base at East Midlands airport.

In the first four weeks of operations bmibaby carried 49,000 passengers, achieving a load factor of 74 per cent. It nowexpects to carry a third more passengers than forecasted – reaching 500,000 in the first nine months of operation.

The three new routes are to Alicante, Geneva and Munich. The fleet of three aircraft will be increased to eight next year.