An extremely intriguing story was revealed by English paper The Sunday Telegraph this weekend, which reported that India’s Jet Airways had made an approach, via a third party, to the UK’s bmi about a possible takeover.
It’s all very speculative at the moment, but if true, a clear demonstration of the ambition of Jet’s ebullient founder and chairman Naresh Goyal.
This year and next are pivotal for bmi and its founder Sir Michael Bishop as he decides what to do with his stake in an airline that has its value centred around an 11.3% share of the slots at London Heathrow.
Personally I find it tough to see Sir Michael and Naresh thrashing out a deal – their personalities simply won’t gel.
Another interesting nugget in the story was that Jet would bid along with Emirates. This is a great story!
Clearly more access to Heathrow is important for both Jet and Emirates. Jet has had to establish its European hub at Brussels because there is not enough room at Heathrow. Taking an interest in bmi would enable it to move the whole thing to London – much more profitable.
Emirates is maxed out at Heathrow for the timebeing and says it has no immediate plans to up its already frequent services to Dubai. Its next big step will be to add capacity by flying some of its 50+ Airbus A380s to the UK capital. But some more slots at Heathrow, and the ability to operate transatlantic services, would be a tempting prospect.
But let’s not forget who is in the box seat in the bmi race – Lufthansa. It’s hard to see Mr Mayrhuber letting such ambitious rivals like Jet and Emirates beat him out of a deal to secure a major position at what still is Europe’s best hub.