Travellers flying between London Heathrow and Vienna will have more flight options from the start of the summer timetable. From March 28, Bmi will commence flights alongside Austrian Airlines, a carrier which has been established on the route for decades.
It means the total number of daily flights rises from four to five. Bmi will operate two of the services with Austrian the remaining three. Its flights, operated by A320s, will be code-shared with those of Austrian.
The move comes at a time when Lufthansa (the owner of Bmi) appears to be using its subsidiary as a cost-effective way of expanding its network out of slot-constrained Heathrow.
Bmi already operates Lufthansa’s three flights a day to Berlin Tegel, as well as plying Milan Malpensa on behalf of Lufthansa Italia, and just recently it began serving the Geneva route in conjunction with Swiss (another Lufthansa-owned airline). It’s believed that Bmi’s operating costs will be lower than those of Lufthansa and its subsidiaries.
Bmi’s MD Dominic Paul told Business Traveller, “This is a great way for us to enter a new route. Austrian has great presence on this route and the schedules we have will be good at attracting business travellers.”
“Because we are operating at our own risk we are providing both Bmi planes and Bmi crew. There will be Bmi catering with similar quality to that provided by Austrian.”
“Flights will be operated in a two-class layout and we will be making further announcements regarding the business class product at a later date.”
Austrian must have faith in Bmi’s operation, otherwise it would not have trusted it to operate the first flight out of Heathrow and the last service back from Vienna. These services are significant because they are prime connectors to and from Austrian’s extensive Eastern and Central European network.
Says Dominic Paul, “Our reputation for reliability is due to a lot of contingency planning. During the recent seven or eight days of really bad weather we operated 90 per cent of our flights with over half of these getting away within 15 mins of schedule.”
Fares start from £99 return. Check for promotional rates in business class, extra FFP miles and so on nearer the time of the route launch.
The news comes as Bmi has also announced plans to drop the remaining business class cabins from its domestic and Dublin routes from Heathrow, in favour of a flexible economy product (see online news January 18).
For more information visit flybmi.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter
The schedules are: