A row has erupted between Aer Lingus and bmi over who has been more successful in attracting passengers on the lucrative Belfast to London Heathrow route. Aer Lingus has claimed that bmi’s passengers are deserting the airline and that the Irish carrier has taken a 40% share of the market. Bmi, however, has hit back saying that Aer Lingus’ claim is inaccurate and that the figure is more like 34%, which includes passengers which have switched from other carriers as well. They are adamant that only a small number of bmi passengers have switched allegiance.
The old adage of “lies, damned lies and statistics” has been trotted out, with bmi saying that they are unsure “which day of the week or which day of the month or which month” Aer Lingus are using to get their figures but that what the Irish airline is saying is plain wrong.
It is now a year since Aer Lingus launched its Heathrow to Belfast route and bmi are happy that they have retained most of their business traveller base. They claim that the low prices charged by rivals, Aer Lingus, are misleading since add-ons such as charges for baggage bump the price up considerably.
Peter Spencer, managing director of bmi, has also commented publicly about the reduction in frequency of Aer Lingus’ service from four flights a day to three. An Aer Lingus spokesperson has responded by saying that bmi’s passengers have been deserting the airline “in droves” and that the real winner in this battle has been the Northern Ireland traveller.