Britain’s second-largest full-service airline, bmi, operates more than 2,000 flights a week and holds 14% of all take-off and landing slots at Heathrow for its fleet of 41 aircraft. It is headed by Sir Michael Bishop, who led a management buyout in 1978. The airline claims to have been a trendsetter for the industry, being the first to serve vegetarian food, the first to allow internet ticket booking, and the first to install on-board medical equipment, which helped to save the life of a passenger who suffered a heart attack last April. The company had a modest increase in sales to £757m in 2001, but made an operating loss of £30m, mainly because of costs incurred by restructuring and rebranding. The airline industry faces the toughest conditions ever in the wake of September 11, the Iraq war and Sars. Competition from discount carriers has added to the pressure and bmi recently announced that it will be laying off 1,500 staff.
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