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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Passenger numbers tail off at BMI
BMI aircraft
BMI's new strategy may have come at a price
Passenger numbers have dropped at privately-owned airline BMI since it axed free food and business-class cabins on many of its flights.

The company confirmed there had been a fall in passenger numbers after figures leaked to the Guardian newspaper showed a dramatic slump.

As well as changes in policy the airline blamed competition from low-cost rivals.

BMI declined to give further details ahead of its annual profits statement.

But it did say it had changed its strategy to concentrate on delivering value rather than volume of passenger numbers.

BMI flights from Heathrow carried 13% fewer people in February than they did a year ago, the Guardian reported.

Routes between London and Scotland suffered the biggest slump in passenger numbers, with Glasgow traffic down 24% and Edinburgh falling 17%.

'Different strategy'

However, chief executive Nigel Turner said BMI would produce encouraging results when it announces its annual profits next week.

We have cut out a bunch of uneconomic fares
Nigel Turner, BMI chief executive

"We've taken a different strategy since I became chief executive," Mr Turner told the Guardian.

"We have specifically focused on getting smaller aircraft in. We have been concentrating on yield (price) and concentrating on business passengers. We have cut out a bunch of uneconomic fares."

But eyebrows are likely to be raised over the strategy, launched last May, which saw free food and business-class cabins abolished on many of its flights.

BMI also revamped its pricing structure, offering three types of ticket depending on the level of service required.

The passenger figures could heighten speculation about BMI's future as an independent company.

Chairman Sir Michael Bishop has a controlling stake of just over 50%.


SEE ALSO:
Airline reduces New Year flights
29 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Low-cost airline scraps flights
26 Jan 05 |  Nottinghamshire
No-frills airline takes to skies
07 Jan 05 |  West Midlands


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