UK carrier bmi regional will commence flights to Rotterdam in The Netherlands, Liege in Belgium and Berne in Switzerland from the Bavarian city of Munich from March 29, 2015. The flights will be operated in partnership with Lufthansa as the too carriers deepen their business relationship, which already sees bmi regional fly between Bristol and Munich in partnership with Germany's flag carrier.
Since gaining its independence after being sold to UK investor Sector Aviation Holdings in 2012 by British Airways’ parent International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) as part of its own purchase of bmi, the carrier has stuck with its existing business model of providing domestic services within the UK and into Europe with a fleet of Embraer ERJ 135 and ERJ 145 regional jets.
Over the past year it has started to look at serving markets not linked to its UK bases and this expansion from Munich will enable it grow with the strength of traffic from a major European hub airport and the addition of Lufthansa's global connecting traffic into the equation offering access to 120 worldwide destinations across Europe, Asia, Middle East, North and South America and Africa.
“These new routes represent a significant step forward for bmi regional and further strengthen our relationship with Lufthansa. Our experience with Munich from Bristol has shown that the airport is both a great destination and a major hub with excellent connection opportunities," said Cathal O’Connell, chief executive officer, bmi regional. "We have researched the market extensively, and chose Rotterdam, Liege and Berne as the ideal cities to extend our presence in Europe."
bmi regional will introduce the three new routes from the start of the summer 2015 schedule in late March and will offer up to two rotations per day to Liege and up to three a day to Berne and Rotterdam. The Liege route will be served by an Embraer ERJ-135, the Rotterdam link with a larger ERJ-145 and the Berne service by a mix of the two aircraft types.
The Liege route will be a new destination from Munich, while it appears bmi regional will operate alongside Lufthansa’s existing Rotterdam operation (flown by Lufthansa CityLine) and in competition with independent Swiss regional carrier SkyWork Airlines on the link to Berne.
Lufthansa previously also served the Berne market in its own right up until January 2010 through its regional partners and for the following two and a third years up until April 2012 the route was served by Cirrus Airlines. Although SkyWork has been serving the Munich - Berne market since May 2013, this bmi regional operation marks the return of connection opportunities.
“Berne Airport is delighted to broaden its number of flights with a premium airline that offers regular jet flights throughout the year. Thanks to the Berne – Munich connection, and the partnership with Lufthansa, the Swiss capital is connected to a major aviation hub, with over 200 destinations available to the people of the Bernese region,” said Mathias Häberli, chief executive officer, Berne Belp Airport.
The hub connectivity is also a major support for the new connection to Liege, which despite being a major European freight hub, only has limited scheduled air services. These are dominated by leisure routes to the Mediterranean and North Africa from charter specialists Jetairfly and Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium.
“This is excellent news for our region. The route opens Liege to Europe and the world: over 200 medium-haul and long-haul destinations are now accessible direct from Liege via Munich. Through bmi’s partnership with Lufthansa, Liège is connected to global destinations in Asia, the United States, Russia, Brazil, South Africa etc," said Luc Partoune, managing director, Liege Airport.