BMI Regional foresees introduction of larger aircraft to complement its Embraer ERJ-145 fleet.
Commercial chief Jochen Schnadt said at the Routes Europe 2017 conference in Belfast today that the UK carrier had not yet finalised plans for when additional aircraft will join its fleet. But he says: "We definitely see opportunity for six or more [larger] aircraft in a reasonably short period of time."
Schnadt says the airline has a "clear understanding" on which routes the additional aircraft will be deployed. This will either be services which BMI has been unable to operate because they are "beyond the economic range" of 50-seat jets, or existing, mature routes in the airline's network that justify deployment of larger aircraft, he asserts.
The introduction of a new type appears to be aimed at expanding BMI's business rather than replacing aircraft in its existing fleet. Schnadt says the additional aircraft will free up ERJ-145s to launch new routes.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows BMI has 11 ERJ-145s with 49 seats and four 37-seat ERJ-135s, with an average age of 17 years. Today, four of these aircraft are stationed in Germany, two in Brussels, and one in Sweden.
In Schnadt's view, efforts by European network airlines to reduce costs in their short-haul operations in order to become more competitive versus budget airlines have opened up opportunities for regional carriers. Aside from starting to charge passengers for services such as hold baggage and onboard catering, he argues that network airlines have increased seat capacity of their aircraft or moved to larger types. "This opens up gaps for us," he says – adding this could represent both thin feeder services to hubs and regional routes between small airports.