British Airways, the UK-based airline, will be using its previous Bmi slots at London Heathrow airport for long-distance flights to Asia and North America.
In its new winter schedule, British Airways is continuing with its integration of British Midland International (bmi) airline with its main fleet, following completion of the merger procedures of the airlines earlier this year.
The airline has acquired 56 extra slots at London Heathrow airport as a result of the merger. 14 of these slots will have to be transferred to other airlines, as part of a concession with European Commission’s competition authorities.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, the parent company of both airlines, said, ‘Asia is an opportunity – particularly now we have flights at Heathrow through the acquisition of Bmi.
We are currently under-served in that market although we will not be looking to enter the intra-Asia market as we don’t think we have the expertise to do that. It would also be very expensive and probably loss-making.
Our focus is on serving growth markets from Asia into Europe. We are just about to start a route to Seoul and we plan to launch a number of new destinations in Asia.
Lots of airports are keen to see a BA presence and we are in dialogue with them. There’s a significant opportunity to increase our Asian presence in a profitable way – particularly with the delivery of the Boeing 787s next year.
We will further expand into the North American market – it’s always been very important for BA and it continues to be a market where there’s growth opportunity.’
Drew Crawley, the commercial director of British Airways, said, ‘We have a better product than the competition but we just haven’t gone out and told people about it.
We have great prices and we will be developing new price products which will make us even more competitive.’