bmi reportedly received little interest over plans to sell slots at London Heathrow Airport, despite talks with a number of carriers (The Times, 12-Nov-2009). bmi owns approximately 11.5% of the airport's slots (BBC News, 11-Nov-2009).The carrier has stated it is confident it will be able to survive, despite reporting a loss of GBP155 million last year, attributed to the global financial downturn, fuel prices and issues at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5.
bmi reportedly receives little interest over London Heathrow Airport slots
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China-UK air service agreement permits growth as Chinese airlines constrained in most other markets
An agreement between China and the UK to more than double their air service agreement is good timing for both sides. Chinese airlines are finding an imbalance: they are taking delivery of widebody aircraft and more Chinese airlines are flying long haul but traffic rights to major markets – the US, Canada, Germany and France – are becoming depleted. Negotiations to add traffic rights have not succeeded, typically due to the foreign side being concerned about accessing Chinese slots or Russian overflight rights.
The agreement with the UK to expand the number of weekly passenger flights from each side from 40 to 100 reflects considerable pragmatism on the part of the UK: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are not growing in China, and China is a large growth opportunity. The UK has lagged on Chinese tourism. It was only in 2015 that China became the UK's largest inbound market.
Qantas' first 787 routes, Perth-London nonstop and Melbourne-LA, address urgent strategic needs
Qantas' first regular 787 services are a year away, but the airline is already announcing the initial routes so it can increase its proposition in deeply significant markets (and also begin preparations while avoiding possible media leaks). The well-flagged Perth-London nonstop service was announced first, but the first route to be flown will be Melbourne-Los Angeles from 15-Dec-2017.
Perth-London nonstop is less about the actual market between Perth and London (it is small) and more about Qantas connecting the rest of Australia with a one-stop proposition via an Australian port with an experience that Qantas can intimately control. Even with Qantas' successful restructuring and cost base reduction, it will still need to command a yield premium.
Nonstop to London, an unprofitable market not expected to turn to black in the short term, is also about the prestige and marketing value of being the only airline to operate Australia-Europe nonstop. Melbourne-LA was likely a late change, prompted by US rejection of its proposed JV with American Airlines. The JV would have resulted in American entering the Melbourne-LA market; Qantas' 787 will instead provide the necessary boost in presence of a market that has become more competitive.