I’ve got fond memories of British Midland. As a young aviation enthusiast growing up in North East England, it was the Viscounts and DC-9’s of the airline flying in and out of Teesside Airport that I would watch on a weekend, and from the playground of my school.
As I travelled on holidays around the world, it was often the DC-9’s, 737s and A320s of the airline that would whisk me off to London Heathrow for onward connections.
But British Midland seemed to go into self-destruct mode by the 2000’s. They gave up the domestic empire they were known for and tried many different European, long-haul and low-cost variations. Their fleet, name and colour scheme changed, and it seemed this former powerhouse faded into insignificance.
They left Teesside in 2009 to much disgust (it was their longest running route), and Lufthansa took over in a bid to return bmi to profitability. bmi had also purchased BMed from British Airways and re-focussed its attentions on niche Middle East and Africa routes.
By the end of April bmi British Midland will become fully owned by IAG. British Airways are already code-sharing on their flights, and there’s talk of the Diamond Club frequent flier programme being incorporated into BA’s Avios scheme. And then the speculation came that Lufthansa wanted to offload the airline, along with bmibaby and bmi Regional. IAG Group (owners of British Airways and Iberia) swooped with a greedy glint in its eye – those Heathrow slots were worth a LOT of money. Virgin complained, but in March 2012 the deal was approved.
bmi will also leave Star Alliance by late April.
To enthusiasts in the UK, it will be sad to lose the blue colour scheme from our skies. It has changed a lot since its Derby Airways foundation, and was once a great British aviation success story.
We will still see its colours for the foreseeable future, as it continues operating the planned summer schedule. But one-by-one the fleet will be repainted or removed depending on British Airways’ requirements. Make sure you get some photographs before it’s too late!
What are your memories of British Midland?