BMED chief executive David Richardson was in Washington recently to promote his new services from London to West Africa to the US travel trade.
Bookings on BMED's on new services to Dakar, Senegal, and Freetown, Sierra Leone, from London Heathrow Airport are better than expected, according to chief executive David Richardson. Launched at the end of October, the bookings for December and January are "way over budget", he says.
Richardson was in Washington for a reception at the British Embassy, sponsored by UK Trade & Investment and British Airways, to celebrate the new service; there are an 40,000-60,000 residents in the Washington area with West African roots.
A franchise partner of British Airways since 1997, BMED operates the new services three times a week with narrow-body Airbus aircraft, equipped with Club World and World Traveller seating. The flights are timed for connections to and from BA's 40 daily US-UK transatlantic flights.
BMED currently has three A320s and five A321s in its fleet and has five more A321s on order. "We're looking forward to further expansion in the next few years." With the new service, the carrier flies to 17 destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, including many points other carriers avoid, such as in Kazakhstan, Syria, Iran and Lebanon, where it started flying in 1994 as British Mediterranean Airways. "We're used to serving challenging destinations," Richardson notes.
The airline makes a point of hiring local managers at each airport. They are both a fantastic source of information on local culture and markets, he says, and the airline has been able to help with inward investment, playing a role in the development of the local economies it serves. "We have no expat managers at all," Richardson adds. "It gives us a bit of an edge."