Bmi is turning its London Heathrow services into a low-cost operation from August 1, scrapping business class on almost all domestic and international routes, simplifying fares and charging economy class passengers for in-flight food and drinks.
Nigel Turner, Bmi's CEO, claims the move is in response to market pressure and it will save the carrier £30 million a year. "Over 50% of our passengers are travelling on business but most of these now do so in the back of the plane. Now we're getting back in sync with what our customers want. We're giving them the choice of paying for what they need."
Bmi is retaining business class on routes from Heathrow toMumbai, Brussels,Edinburgh,Glasgow andBelfast City.
But Bmi's move may not go down well with premium ticket passengers making long-haul connections at Heathrow. Bmi is a Star Alliance member and feeds passengers to over a dozen member airlines including United, ANA, Thai and Varig.
Says a spokesman for Star Alliance: "Yes, first and business class passengers will no longer get separate seating on many routes, but Bmi has assured us that frequent flyer benefits will stay and so too will the lounges. Bmi's move shows that member carriers are adapting to market needs."
Bmi will announce details of fares and catering in mid-June.