Go's premature launch upstages BMI's baby

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The Independent Online

The dogfight between Britain's two newest budget airlines intensified yesterday after Go unveiled plans to begin flying from East Midlands airport nine days before the launch of services by BMI British Midland's rival low-cost carrier bmibaby.

The announcement from Go was designed to steal the thunder of bmibaby which unveils its logo today and additional routes at a giant "birthday party" at East Midlands airport.

Go will initially serve six destinations from the East Midlands and on three of them – Alicante, Malaga and Faro – it will be competing head-to-head with bmibaby. Go is also offering similar introductory fares to those available on bmibaby when services begin on 14 March. Bmibaby starts flying on 23 March. Both airlines say the East Midlands is badly served by low-cost carriers and both are aiming to capture 500,000 passengers in their first full year of operation.

Babara Cassani, chief executive of Go, said that in addition to special launch fares of £25 return to Edinburgh and Glasgow and £59 to Alicante, Malaga and Faro, it would be giving away more than 10,000 free flights.

Bmibaby will today unveil further routes to be served from East Midlands in addition to the six already announced. Austin Reid, BMI British Midland's chief executive, will also unveil more details of the plan to introduce "low-cost" practices into the operation of the full-service scheduled airline.