Air Transport World

Getting there - tortoise style: Airlines of Britain Group avoids 'mushroom development' while expanding from its traditional domestic market into international operations. (Airlines of Britain Holdings PLC)

East Midlands, England-Airlines of Britain Group, comprising British Midland Airways, Loganair and Manx Airlines, has survived in a volatile U.K. airline industry plagued by financial crashes because it always has expanded incrementally, avoiding "mushroom development," according to its chairman, Michael Bishop.

"We may be a bit like the tortoise but we get there," Bishop told ATW here at Donington Hall, a stately old home converted into group headquarters. "It is important to point out that other people failed because they never secured their home base and got a good feed into it."

Although Airlines of Britain's headquarters is here in the Midlands and British Midland, by far the biggest of the three airlines in the group, has some services out of the local East Midlands airport, its main base is at London Heathrow, where it is the second biggest operator in terms of movements, after British Airways, with 15% to BA's 38%.

Group philosophy for British Midland is to secure feed by moving the airline away from its traditional role as a mainly U.K. domestic carrier to a point where it will be 50% domestic and 50% international. This trend, designed to take advantage of a liberalized airline market in Europe, already can be seen emerging in routes opened in recent years from London to Amsterdam, Dublin and Paris.

A further important feed is obtained from SAS, which took a 24.9% share in Airlines of Britain three years ago and whose Heathrow operations are handled by British Midland.

In its last full financial year-1989-reported at this writing, British Midland generated revenues of [British Pound]170 million. Profit was 21.18 million, eroded by an exceptional C689,000 item of costs that were not recoverable from insurers following the loss of a Boeing 737-400 at Kegworth, near East Midlands airport, in January of that year. Net profit before tax amounted to [British Pound]489,000. in 1989 it carried 3.25 million passengers; this rose to 3.63 million last year.

Loganair, which operates mainly in Scotland, with services to the highlands and islands but with routes to Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and Brussels also, reported a net profit of [British Pound]19,000 in '89. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.