British Midland Airlines has been warned by 20% shareholder Lufthansa not to drop the word ‘British’ from its branding. The German national carrier argues that this would devalue the UK airline’s image.

British Midland chairman Sir Michael Bishop is eager to rebrand the airline, which is soon to start its first transatlantic service, from Manchester airport. He is known to judge ‘Midland’ as too parochial for the new US route and some fear that he holds similar views about ‘British’.

But, warns Lufthansa sales vice-president for Europe, Ulrich Wachter: “It is extremely important in branding that ‘British’ is kept in. Safety, reliability and high-quality service are all British assets and I think it should stay.”

As a major shareholder, the German carrier is involved in the rebranding and Wachter’s view is reinforced by his boss, overall v-p for sales, Thierry Antinori, who urged that British companies should not drop ‘British’ from their corporate names or branding in the battle for global business: “British Telecom is stronger than BT overseas,’’ he observed.

Branding consultancy Landor has been appointed to create a new image for the British airline which will be unveiled early in 2001.

News source: The Times (London)