Azerbaijan, Baku / Trend corr S. Aliyev / This year British Midland LTD (BMI), a large British airline, purchased British Mediterranean (BMED), which was a franchising partner of British Airways in Azerbaijan. British Midland is the second largest airline in Great Britain operating around 2,000 flights a week.
Trend 's interview with the Chairman of BMI, Michael Bishop.
Question: How do you assess the purchase of British Mediterranean? What are the prospects of development for BMI through this bargain?
Answer: On 29 October, BMI will open a Baku-London flight, which was previously implemented by BMED. We hope we will be able to dramatically improve the financial service of BMI routes. In buying BMED we had several key purposes - we intend to make BMED a part of BMI, we want to profoundly improve reliability and accuracy of flights, we are going to move flights from terminal four [ Heathrow Airport] to terminal one, for terminal four has problems. All flights will be transferred to terminal one on 29 October.
Question: What changes does BMI plan to make in management and the marketing policy of British Mediterranean?
Answer: As any company, BMI has its own style and culture. Next year we will celebrate our 70th Anniversary. Sure, we have a great deal less aircraft and flights than British Airways, but much more than BMED. I hope we will find a consensus in joint work and will use the best of BMED in the future, and at the same time we will work to overcome the disadvantages the company faced in the past. BMI is the second largest British airline and is a member of Star Alliance, which is the largest air companies' alliance including United Airlines (USA), Lufthansa ( Germany), Singapore Airlines ( Singapore) and others. In the near future Egypt Air will join the alliance.
Question: It is well known that whilst BMI was purchasing BMED the latter had financial difficulties. What measures does BMI plan to undertake to resolve BMED's problems?
Answer: BMED is already a part of BMI. It was purchased in March, when British Mediterranean suffered dramatic financial damage. That was not its fault. The company faced problems in the Middle East, when flights to Beirut, one of their key routes, were temporarily suspended. One of British Mediterranean's key problems was them relying on one definite route. The major bulk of money was lost when Beirut flights were suspended. BMI being larger than British Mediterranean arranges its risks among all routes, but problems can occur at any time. I think we are making the correct strategy in arranging the routes of British Mediterranean. BMI plan to increase the number of routes and the routes of BMED exactly to fit the strategy of expanding BMI routes.
Question: How attractive are London-Baku routes and how will the purchase of BMED affect prices in connection to this?
Answer:BMI has Airbus-320 and Airbus-321 aircraft. We intend to use Airbus-321 for Baku. It is more suitable for this market. If the market requires aircraft of a larger capacity, BMI will offer them. The pricing policy will be the same. We periodically offer discounts and it will depend on the requirements of the market.
Question: How interesting is Baku International Airport for BMI as a hub for other routes?
Answer: We will not implement flights via Baku to other airports [BMED implemented flights to Bishkek via Baku]. Unfortunately, the opportunities for that are restricted. The London-Baku route is direct and the company decided direct routes are more comfortable for passengers. We will have a better schedule than BMED. We will arrive in the morning to London so that transferring to the US and any other point of Great Britain will be available for our passengers. We can see from experience that using Baku as a hub for flights to Bishkek that the service worsened rather than improved, for the aircraft frequently stayed too long and flights were cancelled due to bad weather in Bishkek. That does not diminish Baku's importance as a good centre for flights to other destinations, but that is a privilege of the local air company. But if we are offered this opportunity, I think we will take that as well.
Question: After the events of September 11 2001 in the United States, the passenger air transport market suffered gross losses. Not all companies could cope with these difficulties. Now this field is more or less stable. What are the nearest prospects for development of the air transportation market?
Answer: All airlines, as well as BMI, experienced difficulties [after the events of 11 September]. Airlines began to develop rapidly in order to prove that aviation is a part of economic development. All efforts were made to allow the surviving companies to develop in the right direction. Practice shows that the companies which survived got stronger. Now the market is larger than it was before 11 September 2001. Today routes to China and India are rapidly developing. For instance, BMI has a subsidiary - BMI Baby, an airline with a small budget and implementing short routes inside Great Britain. That is also a key direction in business development.