United, BMI to open skies together

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: BMI and United Airlines are asking the U.S. government for permission to form an alliance. That word from the Times of London this morning. David Robertson is a Business Correspondent with the Times. David what are BMI and United trying to do?

DAVID ROBERTSON: What they're attempting to achieve is an alliance, effectively two companies, one airline. And that is, it's an opportunity for passengers basically to book a ticket that's, say, through United and then use the BMI network. You see it a bit in the large airline groupings Star Alliance and One World and this is a closer partnership effectively.

THOMAS: What's the advantage in this for passengers?

ROBERTSON: For passengers it's great because it's much simpler. This now means that you'll be able to go onto the United website and just buy one ticket that will take you all the way through rather than having to fly to London and then arrange a connection. It also means that your bags get checked all the way through to Aberdeen for example. It's much more satisfying for customers because it cuts out all the complicated stuff.

THOMAS: Now this whole alliance is possible isn't it, because of the open skies rule?

ROBERTSON: It's going to become possible because of open skies. Open skies is going to kick in from March next year and the whole open skies situation has really created quite a lot of movement in Europe. We're beginning to see some consolidation of airlines and this is all part of positioning ahead of the liberalization of air travel between the United States and Europe.

THOMAS: Thank you so much David.

ROBERTSON: No problem, thank you.

THOMAS: David Robertson is a business correspondent with the Times of London.

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