Midlands-based airline BMI has announced 17 new destinations from London Heathrow and plans for further improvements to its mid-haul network.

BMI, in which Deutsche Lufthansa and SAS have stakes of 30 per cent minus one share and 20 per cent respectively, said routes to Middle Eastern destinations including Baku in Azerbaijan, Tehran, Beirut, Amman in Jordan, Almaty in Kazakhstan and Yerevan in Armenia will start on October 28.

The Derbyshire-based airline, in which chairman Sir Michael Bishop has a majority stake, said it had also identified a number of key destinations which it wants to serve from Heathrow, including Kiev, Minsk, Kuwait City, Lahore in Pakistan, Tel Aviv, Dammam in Saudi Arabia and Sana'a in Yemen, as well as increased

flights from Heathrow to Moscow. "We will be seeking a number of such opportunities over the coming months," BMI Group chief executive Nigel Turner said.

The move marks the completion of the integration into BMI of British Airways destinations that were run by BMED under a franchise agreement. BMI bought BMED in February.

The airline said it is also introducing major enhancements to its in-flight product, including improved food and drinks service on all its mid-haul and long-haul routes and kids' packs.

From mid-September, BMI will launch new lie-flat beds on services from Heath-row to Riyadh and to Jeddah, as well as to the Caribbean and to the United States from Manchester.

* Low fares airline Monarch is celebrating a record month after carrying 459,056 passengers on scheduled flights in August, almost 100,000 passengers more than a year ago.