The UK and its accompanying markets have become a battleground of sorts, with EasyJet and Ryanair sweeping the low-cost customers, British Airways tackling the high-revenue passenger, and bmi and its diamond club squarely in between. We sat down with Tracey Gelder, who’s responsible for diamond club to see what was new.
Inside Flyer: You came up with bmi baby, which is your own discount carrier. Your general passenger load seems to be staying up, 22 percent in May. Is bmi baby responsible for that growth? And is it something that is included in the diamond club program?
Gelder: Yes, we’re at 25 percent from the previous July. We’ve got growth on both sides of the business. You can redeem on bmi baby but you can’t earn. We wanted to stick to low cost principles.
IF: In general, it seems that BA’s Executive Club has recently been going after the higher-revenue types. Are there any changes or strategies for diamond club to address similar concerns?
Gelder: In June we changed our currency from points to miles. When we changed the currency, we made a deliberate structure to reward everybody, no matter what type of travel they do. You can earn in any class. Even when you fly infrequently, even when you fly in the back of the cabin regularly, you can still earn with diamond club.
IF: Where did the push come from to change the terminology from points to miles?
Gelder: A combination of things, really. We were growing our root network and finding difficulty in terms of where we were placing the new network. We noticed that people were trying to convert points to miles and there was no formula. Plus we are part of Star (Alliance) and it makes it easier if we’re all taking the same language.
IF: Are there any plans to make diamond club more of a retail program?
Gelder: That’s not significant for diamond club. No, I think diamond club will go it alone and try to compete with airlines. We’re going to stick with what we’re good at.