BMI switches A330 to Israeli route

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BMI has opted to use Airbus A330s on its Israeli route to Tel Aviv, rather than Amman, following the cutting of long-haul services from Manchester.

The UK carrier had originally intended to switch one of its two Manchester A330s to Amman and Cairo but has just decided instead to operate it to the Israeli capital.

Tel Aviv twice-daily operations will start on 3 May, an increase on the current A321 rotations, while Cairo will benefit from a daily A330 service from 2 April.

Speaking at today's Business Travel Show in London, BMI sales and marketing director Katherine Gershon said: "There is demand on Tel Aviv and feedback from the corporates is that they want a second service before they will have a corporate account. There are also very strong family ties from the UK to Tel Aviv."

BMI uses a third A330 to Saudi Arabia. The A330s being introduced to the Middle Eastern services will feature 18 lie-flat business-class seats, 30 premium-economy and 170 economy-class seats.

Gershon is confident the larger aircraft will still deliver improved yield despite the current financial situation. "The economic climate is what it is," she says. "We have put the A330s on these routes because we can make money."

BMI will compete with British Airways on Tel Aviv and Cairo, as well as its Saudi routes following BA's decision to restart flights in May. "The [Saudi Arabian] route is doing extremely well," says Gershon. "But if British Airways does come back, we will welcome competition. We will fight for our market share."