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Charter business takes off for bmi regional

bmi regional has achieved exponential growth in its charter flying business in the past year, following its decision to focus on the market as part of its development strategy.
The airline has flown more than 260 charters this year, more than double what it flew for the whole year in 2013.
Headquartered in Aberdeen and East Midlands, bmi regional operates a scheduled network serving 20 destinations in seven countries but successfully identified an opportunity to use its fleet of Embraer jets to also meet demand for ad hoc charters.

The charter business now represents an important complementary area of the business, operating alongside bmi regional’s primary scheduled route network. It is now flying entertainment artists, car manufacturers, football and sports clubs, businesses and private individuals across Europe and beyond on a weekly basis.  

bmi regional believes its 50-seat jets have helped it provide economical charter solutions to the market.  

Graeme Ross, bmi regional Director of Business Development, said: “There were small business jets and 180-seat jets available in the charter market but not much around the 50-seat mark. Our aircraft fit that largely un-catered for size and are the ideal fit for a football club and its support staff, for example, or a company that needs to move 30 or 40 staff for an event or contract. When you compare the cost of achieving this via scheduled flights with overnight stops and hotels, plus the time involved, the charter option is very cost effective and time efficient.”  

This year, bmi regional has flown as far afield as Keflavik, Iceland, in the north and Malaga, Spain in the south to the Canary Islands in the west and Lvov, Ukraine, in the east. Its longest distance charter this year was for a UK football team playing in Ukraine.  

The airline’s experience has shown that there is no such thing as a typical aircraft charter client. “Our charter client base is diverse and includes everyone from football and ice hockey clubs to pop groups, corporates, film directors and private individuals,” explained Ross.  

“We have built good relationships with many charter brokers and individual clients. We also get phone calls out of the blue – there’s no single source for the charter work.”  

The airline’s entrepreneurial approach to market opportunities has played an important part in the development of the charter business.  

“This hasn’t happened by accident. We looked at the market and at our fleet, and saw an opportunity to provide a great, almost private-jet-style product to charter customers with bespoke menus and full bar service,” said Ross.  

“As an independent airline with a relatively small senior management team, we are able to make informed decisions pretty quickly and decided to follow the opportunity. That move has been borne out by the growth we have achieved within this sector and we have increased aircraft availability for ad hoc charter work this year. We now aim to have an average of two aircraft available for charter but they do tend to book quickly as we see continuing demand in this sector.”

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