One airline that I always admired was bmi.
Formerly known as British Midland, the airline was founded as Air Schools in 1938. They grew to become a major airline in the UK and Europe, eventually being the second largest carrier at London Heathrow airport behind only British Airways.
However by the 2010’s they were losing money and Lufthansa who owned them looked to offload the airline. Seeing an opportunity for expansion, British Airways acquired them in April 2012 and within 12 months the airline was gone.
By the time I started flying on a regular basis, bmi had already been bought by British Airways. Despite this, it was still more or less business as usual for them for a brief period. I managed one final flight with bmi before they were fully integrated into British Airways over the winter 2012/2013 season.
With the recent news that one of their former Airbus A321 aircraft will be converted into a freighter for use by Qantas, it got me wondering where the rest of the fleet is these days.
The short answer is that most are in service with British Airways, but there are a few that have found more exotic homes.
It should also be noted that the info here is about the bmi fleet – so anything that left the fleet prior to the 2001 rebrand from British Midland isn’t covered.
Being delivered to bmi between 2005 and 2007, these all went to British Airways in the takeover. One has now left the fleet (G-DBCI) and now flies with Lanmei Airlines in Cambodia.
Once British Airways moved out of Terminal 1 at Heathrow, the entire former bmi A319 fleet was moved to London Gatwick.
When British Airways acquired bmi, they had just seven A320’s in service. All of these are still in service with BA today. Of the previous A320 fleet, bmi operated, seven are dotted all over!
G-MIDZ: Active with bmi between 1999 and 2008. After spending a few months in storage, it then moved to TAME in July 2009 where it remained until July 2019. The current status is unknown, having last made a flight on 31st July 2019 and being listed as returned to lessor.
G-MIDW: This one has had a very interesting time since leaving bmi. Delivered in March 2000 and staying with the airline until 2007, it then initially found a new home with Spanair. By 2013 it was flying for Scandinavian before moving on once more in 2017 to SmartLynx Estonia. Due to this, it’s ended up flying for a number of airlines including TUI, EasyJet, VietJet and most recently Jet2.
Track its most recent movements here: https://www.flightradar24.com/data/aircraft/es-sap
G-MEDE: Originally delivered to British Mediterranean in 2000, When BMed was bought by bmi in 2007, this one was acquired as part of the deal. Staying with bmi until 2010, it was then sent off to Turkey flying with both Sky Airlines and AnadoluJet before being stored in 2013 and eventually scrapped in 2015.
G-MIDV: Another one of the original deliveries to bmi in 2001, this one remained with the airline until 2008 when it was acquired by Spanair. Following their suspension of operations, ‘DV joined former sister ship ‘DW at Scandinavian in 2012. It was retired by SAS in February 2018 and is currently awaiting scrap at St. Athan.
G-MIDU: Much like ‘DV, G-MIDU was a 2001 delivery to bmi. It also followed ‘DV to Spanair in 2008. Also like ‘DV, when Spanair ceased operations in 2012, ‘DU was looking for a new home. However rather than head off to Scandinavia, this one made its way to Golden Myanmar Airlines in January 2013. It remained there until 2016 when it was leased by Greek Airline Orange2fly. Under their banner, it operated flights for Aigle Azur, SmartWings and TUI Belgium. These days it is flying under the Orange2fly banner once more.
G-MIDR: bmi acquired this one in April 2002. It remained with the airline until it was stored briefly in 2010. It was then picked up by Nesma Airlines where it’s still in operation.
G-MIDP: More or less identical story to G-MIDR.
Initially, bmi were winding down their A321 fleet. Most of their original deliveries had been moved on by the mid-2000’s with just 4 of the 10 still in service. However, when bmi acquired BMed, the A321 fleet grew once more. All of the G-MED* registered A321’s still fly with British Airways. All of the original G-MID* had gone long before the British Airways takeover however.
G-MIDA: The first Airbus delivered to bmi to replace their ageing Boeing 737 fleet, this one was gone long before the 737’s it was intended to replace were retired! Handed over to the airline in March 1998, it was with them until 2005. At this point, it entered service with Turkish Airlines where it stayed until 2012 when it was handed over to Onur Air. During its final years with Onur Air, it operated for Saudi Arabian Airlines before being sold to AtlasGlobal in 2016. It remains in service with them currently.
G-MIDC: Another former bmi A321 that eventually found its way to Turkey. This one took a more circuitous route than its predecessor however. This one spent a couple of seasons operating for Air 2000 in 1999 and 2000. Other than that, it flew for bmi right up to 2010 before spending a year in storage. In 2011 it was picked up by Onur Air where it remained until November 2018. In 2020, it will enter the Qantas fleet as a freighter after being converted during 2019.
G-MIDE: Bit of an unlucky one! Delivered new to bmi in August 1998, it remained with the airline until May 2006. At which point, it went to UK airline Monarch and remained with them until they collapsed in late 2017. It was picked up in July 2018 by Small Planet Airlines however it didn’t last with them too long. By October 2018, they had collapsed too. It was then placed into storage until March 2019. It is currently awaiting scrap at St Athan.
G-MIDF: The very first A321 I flew on back in 2003! It would be a decade before I would fly on another. Yet another bmi A321 that found a new life in Turkey. Retired by bmi in 2005, it was then handed over to Turkish Airlines where it remained until 2012. Following this, it went to Onur Air where it still operates today. During its spell at Onur Air, the aircraft has been leased out to Saudi Arabian Airlines and Zagrosjet for brief periods.
G-MIDH: A 1999 delivery to bmi, where it remained until March 2006. After this, it went to… you guessed it, Turkey. This time with Inter Express Airlines where during its time with the airline was also leased out to Pakistan International. Inter Express ceased operations in 2008, and the aircraft moved over to Atlas Global a few months later. It eventually ended up with Onur Air where it sustained major damage during a storm in January 2019.
G-MIDI: This one shares mostly the same story as above. It also happened to spend time with Saudi Arabian Airlines during its spell with Inter Express Airlines. The last flight this one made was in June 2019. Its still listed as active with Onur Air however, so can only assume its undergoing heavy maintenance.
G-MIDJ: Handed over to bmi in the summer of 1999, it was soon leased out to Lufthansa until May 2000. The following year saw it leased out to Air 2000 for the summer season before returning to bmi until October 2006. At which point, it joined the Monarch fleet until they collapsed in late 2017. By May 2018 it was back in service – this time with RedWings Airlines where it remains.
G-MIDK: Yet another bmi A321 that ended up at Monarch. Originally entering service in January 2000, it was retained by bmi until April 2007. It stayed in service with Monarch until October 2017. In July 2018, it found a new home with Just Us Air (no, I’ve not heard of them either) where it remains in service today.
G-MIDL: Finally one that didn’t end up in Turkey or with Monarch! G-MIDL was delivered from Airbus to bmi in February 2000. It remained with the airline until January 2010. After a year in storage, it entered service with Asiana, where it remains in service.
G-MIDM: The final member of the shorthaul fleet that didn’t end up at British Airways. G-MIDM was a member of the bmi fleet for 7 years from delivery in April 2000 until May 2007. It spent the summer 2006 season on lease at ArkeFly. After this, it joined many of the other fleet members by heading off to Monarch. In November 2018 it took to the air again with Windrose Aviation.
For 2001, bmi rebranded from British Midland and re-launched long haul flights. To achieve this, the airline acquired three Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The problem was that prior to 2008, the airline was unable to serve the USA from London Heathrow due to the Bermuda II agreement. Therefore they spent their early life based at Manchester.
Initially, they flew between Manchester-Chicago, Washington and Toronto. The three aircraft also made it to the Caribbean and Las Vegas from Manchester but it just didn’t work. By the time bmi could move to Heathrow, they had more or less given up on the Trans Atlantic market. Instead, the A330’s were found on flights from Heathrow to Riyadh and Tel Aviv.
The final missions for these aircraft under their bmi ownership was actually operating for British Airways. Due to BA’s 767’s undergoing refurbishment, the bmi A330’s filled in for these on the Heathrow-Larnaca route shortly before being returned to their lessor in October 2012.
G-WWBM: The first widebody delivered to bmi was in April 2001. By the end of 2002, this one was leased out to South African Airways for the winter season. By May 2003, it was back with bmi once more. It stayed in the fleet until June 2010 when it went out on lease once more – this time to Turkish Airlines. At the end of March 2011 it returned to bmi until the British Airways takeover was complete at the end of October 2012. After this, it spent a year in storage before being spotted in Thomas Cook colours at the end of 2013. This is where it’s flying today.
G-WWBD: Another bmi A330 with an interesting past. This one was delivered straight to SAS in May 2001. The aircraft remained there on lease until November 2001 when it finally joined the bmi fleet. It stayed with bmi for a year before joining ‘BM at South African Airways for a year until the end of 2003. It remained in the bmi fleet until the end of January 2007 when it was leased out to Virgin Nigeria. This didnt last too long though, and by the end of May 2007 it was back with bmi. It remained there until October 2012 when British Airways. It then flew to Orlando Sanford for storage before being broken up in May 2013.
G-WWBB: The final A330 delivered to bmi was in May 2001. It too went out on lease to South African Airlines at the end of 2002. After this, it remained with bmi until it was stored in March 2010. The airline just didn’t have the need for any A330’s by this point. By July of the same year it was flying for SriLankan. It stayed there until March 2016 where it then found a new home at Onur Air. Although it would appear it has never operated for Onur Air – within a few days it was leased out to Saudia where it is still in service today.
The Boeing 737’s were the backbone of the fleet throughout the 1990’s. Once the majority of the Airbus A320/A321’s had arrived in the early 2000’s however, their days were numbered. Most of the fleet was transferred to bmi’s new low cost startup bmi baby, but there were a few that left before this.
One 737 made it into the newly introduced bmi livery, by the rest wore a hybrid bmi/British Midland livery.
G-OBMX: This one was initially delivered to Linjeflyg in 1990. By 1993 it was flying for British Midland. It remained with the airline until March 2001 when it was transferred to Luxair. In 2005 it moved to CSA, followed by Aeroflot Nord in 2008, Nordavia and finally Kaiser Air in 2014. Its still flying with Kaiser Air to this day:
G-OBMM: This one was a new delivery to bmi in 1991. It served the airline until 2003, when it was transferred to Agile Azur. It stayed there until 2006 when Aegean took over the lease. The Greek airline handed the aircraft back in 2009 where it remained in storage for over a year. Between August 2010 and December 2015, the aircraft flew for Eastern Skyjets. It then spent a further 18 months in storage. When it emerged, it had been converted to a freighter. It is still active today with ASL Airlines.
G-SMDB: One of the final 737’s delivered to the airline. This 1997 build only stuck around with bmi until 2002. It was then passed over to British Airways to operate for their new low cost start up, Go. When Go were taken over by EasyJet a few months later, it was registered to them until 2005 when it ended up going full circle back to bmi. Although upon its return to bmi, it flew under the bmi baby umbrella until they were closed in 2012. After a year in storage, it found a new home at Azman Air where its still in operation today.
G-SFBH: The final 737 delivered to the airline in 1997. By 2002 it had left the fleet to join Air One where it stayed until 2007. Following this, it joined Blue Air where it entered storage in October 2018. In February 2019 it was transferred to Electra Airways, although it remained in storage until May 2019. It is currently operating for Electra Airways.
For bmi’s regional flights, they operated a fleet of Embraer E145 aircraft under the bmi Regional banner. When British Airways bought bmi, bmi Regional was sold on where it retained the blue and white livery along with the bmi Regional name. However in early 2019, bmi Regional went out of business, bringing the bmi name to an end.
Most of the Embraer fleet lived on with bmi Regional after the BA buy out, however a few got the chop before hand.
G-RJXN: Originally delivered to LOT Polish in 2000, this one was picked up by bmi in 2006. It remained with the airline until 2009 when it was put into storage until January 2011. Upon leaving storage it was handed over to Passaredo where it was then stored in 2012. The current status of this aircraft is unknown.
G-RJXO: This one has a similar story to the one above. Delivered to LOT Polish in 2000, acquired by bmi Regional in 2006 and into storage in 2009. It also went to Passaredo however in May 2013 it was acquired by Solenta Aviation. It is still owned by Solenta Aviation however it has been operating for fastjet Zimbabwe since October 2017.
G-EMBP: The final Embraer to enter and leave the fleet during the bmi days. This one has had quite the past. Originally delivered to British Airways in August 2000 and operating under their various regional brands until they were bought out by FlyBe in 2007.
It stayed in the FlyBe fleet for around a year before entering storage in September 2008.
In February 2009, it was purchased by Aviation Solutions and leased to bmi Regional in 2011. By May 2012 it had moved on to Eastern Airways where it remained in service for a year. After another year in storage between May 2013 and June 2014, it left the UK and moved to Bangladesh to fly for NovoAir. It remained in their fleet until the end of 2017 when it was passed on to National Airways, where from what I could find still appears to be operating today. Although flightradar24.com cant seem to find it, so who knows!
During the 1990’s until the mid-2000’s bmi operated a reasonable number of Fokker F100/70’s. The information on this fleet varies somewhat across the web, so there could well be a few inaccuracies. What I could find though:
G-BVJC: According to most sites, this was the only one to officially fly for bmi – the rest staying registered to British Midland. Although seeing how the British Midland > bmi transition was only a rebrand as opposed to a completely new airline being set up, I’m not sure how that works!
G-BVJC was delivered to British Midland in 1994 and remained until 2005 when it was handed back to Fokker. Following this, it flew with Spanair, Iranian Air Transport, Iranian Naft Airlines and Karun Airlines where it remains in service.
What would they be flying today?
I’ve often wondered what the airline would be flying today had they not been bought by British Airways.
Seeing as most of the A320 series fleet is still active, its safe to assume that they would still be around. The A330’s would likely be gone and not replaced however. Long haul just didn’t work for bmi. Being a member of Star Alliance, it would have been fairly easy for them to leave the long haul connections to their partners.
Going forward, they were the kind of airline that could have made perfect use of the upcoming A321XLR. And if they went down that road, then the A320neo would have made the perfect replacement for their A320 fleet.