bmi flies into Indian mkt. with a Mumbai-London service

MUMBAI: UK’s second largest airlines British Midland (bmi) marked its entry on Tuesday by announcing the launch of a Mumbai-London flight with an aim to explore opportunities and develop further services to other Indian destinations.

Speaking at the launch of the service, bmi chairman Sir Michael Bishop said that the airlines was committed to bring greater value and choice to a market that had been under-served and short of direct capacity.

Calling it a historic moment for bmi, Sir Michael added that the launch of the Mumbai-London service marks the first long haul service operated by the airlines from Heathrow, its main domestic and European hub.



bmi has an extensive domestic (UK) and European short-haul network and a choice of onward travel with its Star Alliance partner, which allows travelers wider choice of destinations. Limited deregulation of air travel between the UK and India was agreed in September 2004 and bmi was granted rights to fly from Heathrow to Mumbai in December last.

According to Sir Michael, "I congratulate the Indian government on being courageous and agreeing to open the market up to much needed competition." This, he pointed out, will allow greater direct capacity between India and the UK, benefiting both British and Indian carriers.

Previously, more than 53 per cent of the market between the two countries has been forced to travel via connecting airports in the Middle East to the disadvantage of home carriers, he added.



As a result of further deregulation in the Indian airlines industry announced last month, bmi is evaluating options that would allow for further route network development from India to Heathrow. The airlines hopes to garner between 15 - 20 per cent of market share in a year’s time.

The sales and marketing of bmi in India will be handled by the general sales agents (GSA) Discover the World, while off-air operations will be looked after by GSA Jetair. The British airline is also looking at setting up a base in Mumbai and is presently hunting for office space.

Commenting on the sales strategy, a senior bmi executive said that the airlines would be looking at striking corporate deals in India and the UK. Apart from this, travel agents have been given incentive schemes to push sales.



A bmi flight offers an array of in-flight entertainment ranging from a choice of 11 movies and nine TV and 16 audio channels. Also available will be over 30 computer games, telephone facility and data ports. Laptop power connections will be accessible in the business and new economy seats.

bmi, which is working on comparatively leaner budgets vis-?-vis its main rival Virgin Atlantic, today unveiled a print-led campaign with ads across various publications. Hoardings have also been taken across Mumbai.

The campaign is a two-week burst with the ad spends pegged at $ 100,000. The creative and media duties are being handled by Citi Prime.

As part of marketing initiatives, trade activation with niche publications like T3 and Travtalk have been started. Direct mailers too have been sent out to travel agents, while seminars are being planned for agents to ensure product knowledge.

To ensure initial momentum, bmi has come up with an introductory offer of Rs 30,000 for a Mumbai-London-Mumbai trip. Asked about bmi's unique selling proposition, company’s India manager Ravi Pikle said, "Considering bmi has such a strong network in the UK and within Europe, we are in a position to offer our passengers free add-ons to any point within the stated regions. This is something that makes us stand apart."

With a vision to become a four-day a week carrier from Mumbai, bmi, anyhow, will have to face competition from others like British Airways, Air India, Virgin Atlantic and Jet Airways on the Mumbai-Heathrow route.

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