If the name Flybmi does not ring any bells just yet, we should hasten to clarify that this is the new trading name of BMI Regional – one of the most prominent regional airlines in Britain. The company rebranded in early July to reflect the wider European proposition it has been developing for the last three years. “We have focused on serving major business hubs, such as Munich, Frankfurt, and Brussels, and to a lesser extent Paris, as well as connecting a lot of the secondary and tertiary regions of Europe, and it has become a sort of a niche for us, hence the slight rebranding,” Chief Commercial Officer, Jochen Schnadt states.
“It is an interesting time, because there is a lot of uncertainty in Europe around Brexit, but because we focus primarily on business travel, that has not changed anything for us. We can even say that the situation has probably driven more activity, as people are preparing for life after Brexit, so there is a lot of travel to and fro,” Jochen comments. “The whole work-life balance is also changing and we see how secondary cities are becoming more attractive, as they are cheaper to live in and sometimes offer a better quality of life. There is an increase in demand for flights to more secondary cities and we are keen to address this trend.”
Flybmi has seen a 50 per cent increase in passenger traffic over the last two years and the number of travellers carried in 2018 is projected to circulate around the 650,000 mark. Running a fleet of 19 Embraer ERJ jets that cover almost 600 flights per week, the airline concentrates on providing comfortable and hassle-free journeys to its passengers. “Most of the jets are 49- seaters, but we also have some 37-seaters. What is nice about them, is that they do not have middle seats, which makes them more pleasant and comfortable for people travelling on their own for business.
“Moreover, because of the size of the aircraft, you do not need to bring trolley bags, which have now become such a headache when you try to put them in the overhead bins. Instead, we ask you to just leave your luggage at the doorstep and only bring your briefcase or laptop on board, and once you land, you can get your trolley bag right at the steps of the aircraft. It is a convenience proposition we deliver to our customers,” Jochen explains.
“Given the business model we apply, we are focused on developing what I would call a ‘traditional offering’. This means that your hand baggage is free, your hold baggage is free, and your seat assignment is free. We also provide meals and snacks on board that are included in the fare. We do not offer the à la carte pricing options everybody else seems to be doing these days, because we understand, especially with business travellers in mind, that we should create a hassle-free experience, which takes away the stress from the customers.”
Facilitating and enhancing customer experience is where Flybmi is directing its finances at the moment, as the airline continues to improve its offering. The company has just recently launched its new website, alongside a new booking engine. “Only two weeks after the website went live, we have seen some tangible increase in web traffic, as well as a spike of people who are booking directly with us,” Jochen claims. He delineates his intentions to perfect Flybmi’s customer experience. “We will be looking at how we can make the overall experience more convenient, especially for connecting passengers who need to get from A via B, to C. Convenience becomes more critical as we become more digitally savvy. We aim not to overburden passengers with lots of different options and unclear messages, but instead make our offering simple, straightforward, and transparent. We are confident that this approach will elicit a very positive consumer reaction.”
One recent example of Flybmi’s commitment to raise the value of its proposition is its partnership with German car hire company Sixt that began at the start of 2018. It enables passengers to pre-book Sixt’s chauffeur service called My Driver on Flybmi’s website when flying on most Flybmi routes, so they can be picked up directly from the arrivals terminal. “This is the kind of business relationships we are looking to establish that will help us offer a truly door-to-door experience to our customers,” Jochen maintains.
“Our focus at the moment is on determining the right path to follow in the post-Brexit world, but once this is done, we will then see more developments that will drive the business forward, including the potential addition of larger aircraft to our fleet,” he discusses Flybmi’s future business objectives. “We have an interest in a number of markets, mainly in Western, Northern, and Central Europe, which may not be as big as the capitals, but we still want to connect them with each other, and with some of the major hubs, too. In the meantime, we will continue to reinforce our customer experience to get to the point where flying with Flybmi becomes synonymous with seamless and convenient travel,” he concludes.
• Only domestic airline with a pure jet fleet
• 50 per cent increase in passenger traffic in the last two years
• Serves and connects major business hubs and secondary European cities