UK airlines are being invited to bid to take over bmi’s rights to operate on the London–Moscow route after government talks to liberalise the market between the two countries failed to achieve a breakthrough, Routes News can reveal.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has formally launched a scarce capacity review to find a new airline to take over bmi’s allocation of 14 services per week to the Russian capital after talks between UK and Russian transport officials earlier this month to failed to achieve an increase.
If more than one applicant comes forward, the CAA will have to judge who will win the rights. Airlines have until Monday, July 23 to make an application.
Under the present agreement, both countries are limited to 35 services per week between Moscow and London with British Airways and Aeroflot each allocated 21 services per week while bmi and Transaero can each operate 14.
With the demise of bmi in October, those rights will become vacant.
A UK delegation from the Department for Transport travelled to Moscow Domodedovo Airport earlier this month to meet with the Russian Ministry of Civil Aviation.
But despite “constructive talks”, UK officials failed to persuade the Russian Ministry to agree to more flights between the two cities and London.
The development puts Virgin Atlantic in the driving seat to take on bmi’s flights between Heathrow and Moscow.
The airline has publicly stated it plans to launch a Moscow-London service in 2013, but this will be dependant on Virgin winning bmi’s slots at London Heathrow as well as a scarce capacity certificate for the service from the CAA.
Bmi currently flies twice daily between London Heathrow and Moscow Domodedovo and is set to continue doing so until October when the slots will become vacant.
Low-cost carrier EasyJet said it would neither confirm nor deny whether it was interested in the route while Thomson has ruled itself out of the race.