BMI British Midland

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(Redirected from British Midland)
bmi logo.
bmi Airbus A320.
bmi Airbus A320.
Missing image
bmi Airbus A321 in an old, but still frequently seen, colour scheme.
Missing image
Embraer ERJ 145 of bmi regional.

bmi, formerly known as British Midland, is the second largest airline in the United Kingdom. Based at East Midlands Airport, it flies to destinations across Europe, and to the United States and India. bmi's operational base is London Heathrow, where it holds 14% of all take off and landing slots, and operates over 2000 flights a week.


Code Data

  • IATA Code: BD
  • ICAO Code: BMA
  • Callsign: Midland


bmi's roots lie in the formation of Air Schools Ltd in 1938, specialising in flying instruction for RAF pilots. In 1949 the company formed Derby Aviation and Wolverhampton Aviation, based at Burnaston in the Midlands, offering ad-hoc charter and freight flights with De Havilland Rapides, as well as aircraft maintenance and brokerage. The 1950s would see rapid expansion for the company. Flying instruction ceased in 1953 with the start of scheduled flights from Derby and Wolverhampton to Jersey. When the first Douglas DC-3 arrived in 1955, Wolverhampton Aviation had been phased out and the company's sole base became Burnaston Airport. International services commenced in 1956 to Ostend, and holiday flights to mainland Europe began. The company was also contracted by Rolls-Royce to transport aero engines to customers throughout the world, and in 1959 changed its name to Derby Airways. Domestic scheduled flights within the United Kingdom were launched toward the end of the decade.

In 1964 the company changed its name again to British Midland Airways (BMA) and moved operations from Burnaston to the recently opened East Midlands Airport. The corporate colours of blue and white were adopted at that time, with the introduction of the first turboprop aircraft, the Handley Page Herald. Minster Assets, an investment and banking group, acquired the airline in 1968. Domestic and European expansion continued apace, and in 1970 BMA entered the jet age with the introduction of the BAC 1-11, followed by the Boeing 707 in 1971. However, the BAC 1-11s would be withdrawn in 1972 and the 707s leased to other airlines as BMA concentrated on turboprops such as the Vickers Viscount. Though the 707 fleet would be increased, none operate for BMA on scheduled services or charter services on their behalf until [1981], instead they were leased to other operators. The Douglas DC-9 would convert most of the airline's domestic and European service to jet operation with it's introduction in 1976.

In 1978 the company directors successfully purchased the airline from Minster Assets. The consortium included Sir Michael Bishop, now the airline's chairman, and known as the BBW Partnership. That year, British Midland and British Airways agreed to route swapping, resulting in British Midland Airways relinquishing its continental routes from Birmingham to Brussels and Frankfurt and BA handing over its routes from Liverpool to Heathrow, Belfast, Dublin, Jersey, the Isle of Man and Glasgow. Annual passenger numbers topped 1 million for the first time in 1979.

In 1981 an application to fly between Heathrow and Glasgow and [Edinburgh] was denied by CAA. The ruling was overturned, however, after an appeal was lodged with Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. With the introduction of these services, BMA and BA were now in direct competition.

BMA, together with British & Commonwealth Shipping, formed Manx Airlines in 1982, and the following year BMA purchases a 75% stake in Glasgow-based airline Loganair. In March 1987 Airlines of Britain Holdings (ABH) was formed to act as a holding company for British Midland and British Midland Aviation Services. ABH became British Midland in 1997 when it was de-merged as part of wide restructuring.

A new look for the airline was unveiled in 1985. Aircraft were painted in very dark blue, deep grey on the lower half of the fuselage with red relief. Now simply known as British Midland, a new logo of a stylised red BM crowned with a diamond shape appears on the aircraft tailfins. Airport lounges were introduced at UK hubs and the Diamond Club frequent flyer programme was launched. The charter market was abandoned and the 707 fleet withdrawn at this time. Boeing 737s were introduced to the fleet in 1987, however it was one of these aircraft that is involved in the airline's only accident to date, when flight BD092 crashed on approach to East Midlands Airport in January 1989, killing 47 people. The aircraft developed a fire in one of the engines en route from Heathrow to Belfast. Though the decision was made to divert to East Midlands, the crew mistakenly shut down the functioning engine, causing the aircraft to lose power and crash on the M1 Motorway just short of the runway. The Kegworth air disaster, as the incident became known, would lead to considerable improvements in aircraft safety and emergency instructions for passengers. The official report into the disaster made 31 safety recommendations.

British Midland become the first airline to offer a vegetarian choice of in-flight meals on UK domestic services, and one of the first airlines in Europe to introduce a vegetarian option, in 1992. Toward the end of the 1990s, British Midland switched to Airbus and Embraer for its fleet renewal programme.

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), a shareholder in British Midland since 1987, sold some of its stake to Lufthansa in 1999 on the condition that British Midland joined the Star Alliance, which it did the following year. The airline joined the Star Alliance in July 2000. In February 2001 a new corporate identity was unveiled, rebranding the airline bmi british midland (though bmi officially doesn't mean anything, it implies 'British Midland International') featuring a brighter blue and replacing the grey with white, bringing a more modern and fresh appearance with sweeping curves. In 2003, british midland was quietly dropped from the brand and the airline is now simply referred to as bmi. The new identity coincided with the launch of transatlantic services to Washington, DC and Chicago from Manchester using wide-body Airbus A330 aircraft.

In 2002, bmi set up a low-cost subsidiary known as bmibaby, using redundant Boeing 737s which were displaced after bmi's fleet renewal programme favoured an all-Airbus fleet for medium haul and heavy density short haul services. bmibaby flies routes between secondary airports around Europe.

bmi has fought to gain transatlantic flights from Heathrow. Only British Airways, Air India, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, United Airlines, Kuwait Airways, and Air Canada are permitted to offer such routes.

Although a direct competitor to British Airways on several routes from Heathrow for many years, including shuttle services to Glasgow and Edinburgh, competition between the two carriers has never been fierce and both seem to co-exist peacefully.

bmi launched a new service to Mumbai from London Heathrow in May 2005, after UK and India reached new bilateral air service agreement, and plans to serve Riyadh in September 2005 after British Airways dropped the service due to security issues.

The airline is owned by the BBW Partnership (Sir Michael Bishop, J Wolfe and S Balmforth) (50% plus 1 share), Lufthansa (30% minus 1 share) and SAS (20%).


See bmi destinations


The Bmi fleet consists of the following aircraft (at June 2005):

External links


Template:Airlines of the United Kingdom

Members of the Star Alliance
Air Canada | Air New Zealand | ANA | Asiana Airlines | Austrian Airlines
bmi | LOT Polish Airlines | Lufthansa | SAS | Singapore Airlines
Spanair | TAP Portugal | Thai Airways | United Airlines | US Airways | Varig

Regional Members: Adria Airways | Blue1 | Croatia Airlines

Future Members: South African Airways | Swiss

de:bmi (Fluggesellschaft)

fr:British Midland Airways ja:Bmi ブリティッシュ・ミッドランド航空


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