bmi’s ‘baby’ makes it big in Birmingham

Image: Cordened off area of Birmingham city centre turned into promotional beach
Who needs Palma? bmibaby’s beach in the heart of Birmingham’s city centre has attracted more than 100,000 people so far this summer. Four bmibaby tickets to Lisbon were presented to the 100,000th visitor.

British Midland’s low-cost subsidiary bmibaby only began services from Birmingham airport at the start of 2005 and yet within three years the airline has become the biggest at the airport, according to recent figures, with 17% of traffic in July.

Competition from Flybe and Monarch

This summer, bmibaby is serving 20 destinations from the UK’s sixth busiest airport.

Destination Start Date Initial Frequency Current Frequency Pax* in 2006 (all carriers) Competition
Aberdeen 29 Oct 06 12 12 77,948 Flybe
Alicante 07 Jan 05 7 8 196,295 Monarch
Amsterdam 08 Jan 05 13 13 485,654 KLM
Barcelona 25 Mar 07 7 7 45,960
Belfast International 08 Jan 05 13 18 176,141** Flybe (BHD)
Bordeaux 10 Jun 05 7 7 46,475
Cork 27 Mar 05 7 7 115,566 Aer Lingus
Edinburgh 07 Jan 05 14 18 494,741 Flybe
Faro 27 Mar 07 3 3 93,384 Monarch
Glasgow 25 Mar 07 18 18 325,912 Flybe
Jersey 24 May 07 4 4 37,822 Flybe
Knock 07 Jan 05 6 8 92,422
Lisbon 25 May 07 4 4
Malaga 07 Jan 05 7 9 262,494 Monarch
Marseille 25 May 07 4 4
Murcia 12 Jun 05 1 5 79,177 Monarch
Nice 10 Jun 05 7 7 64,644
Palma 08 Jan 05 2 7 69,104 Monarch
Prague 07 Jan 05 6 7 93,508
Rome Fiumicino 24 May 07 7 7
* scheduled only
** plus 263,934 to Belfast City (BHD)

Apart from these year-round routes, bmibaby also serves the ski market in winter with regular flights to Geneva. The UK surf capital of Newquay was served daily during the summer of 2005 but was abandoned thereafter. Of the 20 summer routes, bmibaby has a monopoly on eight of them, competition from Flybe on five, competition from Monarch scheduled services on five and faces Aer Lingus and KLM on Cork and Amsterdam respectively.

Base requires eight aircraft

Table: bmibaby at BHX - September 2007 - 8 aircraft

This summer’s schedule requires eight aircraft as shown in the table. Most routes are operated daily during the week, but Jersey and Marseille share aircraft time as do Murcia and Faro and Lisbon and Malaga.

Only one aircraft departs before 06:30 (to Amsterdam) and only one returns after midnight.

Fares are reasonable even for late bookers

Compared with some other LCCs has looked at, bmibaby’s fares for late bookers are quite reasonable. The only flights that had high prices a few days in advance were Friday night trips to Prague and weekend flights to Nice.

Table: bmibaby fares from Birmingham for w/c 27 Aug 2007

Fares include all taxes and charges for one-way travel. Passengers wanting to travel the following day (Monday) would pay on average £123 across all routes. However, if travel could be delayed until Thursday average fares fall by nearly 40% to just £75. For reservations made now for travel in late October, the following fares are currently available.

Table: bmibaby fares from Birmingham for w/c 22 Aug 2007

The average fare is now closely correlated with sector length. Short-haul domestic flights are the cheapest, while Alicante, Faro, Murcia and Rome have the highest fares reflecting their sector length of more than 1,500km.

What happened to BA?

Not so many years ago British Airways was the largest airline at Birmingham and was represented by several of its subsidiaries, including Maersk Air Ltd (MAL) and BA Regional. MAL decided to go it alone and evolved into duo before failing in May 2004. BA Regional became part of BA Connect, which was sold to Flybe last year and was fully rebranded earlier this year. However, flights can still be booked on BA’s website, though frequently at higher fares than if passengers booked at

In effect BA no longer has a presence at Birmingham and so Flybe, bmibaby, Monarch and others have stepped in to fill the slots vacated by BA. For bmibaby, Birmingham is now its biggest base by some distance with more aircraft and routes than at East Midlands, Manchester or Cardiff.

Image: BMI baby advertising


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