yep it's true bmi are looking to start operations to india from manchester from spring next year. As there are national elections this year in India there will not be an announcement until the end of the year. And these are not the only routes bmi are looking to start from manchester in the next 2 years!!
oh and by the way bmi has no plans to drop the IAD from the network (as it makes so much money from cargo) but will look to reduce frquency to 4 times per week. This is because they want to keep the yyz going over the winter 3 times a week (if air canada agree)!!
why would virgin and ba be at the front of the queue
I am happy to stand corrected on this, but I think that only the London airport system is subject to the bilateral restrictions between the UK and India. The UK went around basically declaring open skies to/from regional airports about three/four years ago subject to the appropriate foreign government reciprocating to allow carriers from both sides to operate to MAN, BHX etc. I think this was agreed with India and if so, would mean that bmi could op these routes from MAN but not from LHR. No change to the rest of its long-haul network there, then.
Also bear in mind that this may be related to Air Canada operations on MAN-YYZ. There is a substantial market between India and Canada because a large number of Indians hold Canadian passports which helps them to qualify for non-resident tax status in India. Quite apart from that, there are a lot of expatriate ties between the two countries. It is not an especially high-yield market (Air Canada pulled out due to low yields) but if you can get your costs low enough to serve it profitably, I think you can count on year-round volumes to make this work.
I think Flightrider is correct - Air India operated A310s to Manchester for a couple of years in the 90s, but pulled off because they wanted to use the aircraft elsewhere, which suggests that regulatory approval is already there. Presumably bmi would need to acquire a 4th (at least) 330 for all this, especially if the Caribbean routes are planned to continue next summer: 1 aircraft for daily Chicago 1 aircraft for daily Toronto (in the summer at least) 1 aircraft for Washington (and India?) 1 aircraft for the Caribbean
Harrier, I'm not sure what the bilateral says, but BA currently only fly to Islamabad; 3 flights weekly using 777's. I think that PK has daily flights from Karachi to Heathrow, and also flies from Lahore and Islamabad. Manchester and Birmingham are also served; Manchester is actually a stop on PK's atlantic flights. I have to go to Karachi quite regularly, it would be great if BA would resume services. I think that Swiss is the only European carrier at the moment. www.piac.com.pk