As we predicted in Inside Traveller, Lufthansa have decided against selling BMI. Whilst they were forced to buy the airline, through an agreement made some years ago, they were able to get a major price reduction. Since February, the airline industry has come back from the brink and the possible value of BMI’s major asset – its large stock of slots at Heathrow – has increased massively since it now seems unlikely that a new runway will be built. We rather suspect that Lufthansa has got a bit of a bargain.
Now it just has the difficult job of sorting out the airline.
That is easier said than done. Sir Michael Bishop did a terrific job in keeping the airline going and maintaining and increasing its bank of slots. It was a brilliant attempt at keeping an awful lot of balls in the air but it was not a long-term strategy. Now Lufthansa have to decide what they are going to do to make BMI a successful operation in its own right.
Their first move has been to start some radical pruning at Bmibaby, reducing the fleet and concentrating on airports where they have a strong position, notably East Midlands.
No doubt the main BMI operation will face some similar surgery in the near future.
It won’t necessarily be very popular but it is important that the airline survives as a genuine second force in British aviation so Lufthansa’s moves to sort out BMI should be welcomed.