, formerly known simply as British Midland
, is one of the largest airline
s in the United Kingdom
. Starting out as a flying school for Royal Air Force
pilots, Midland began operations in 1964
, and soon built up a formidable domestic network challenging British Airways
. True to its name, it was originally headquartered at East Midlands Airport
before moving to Heathrow
to be in the middle of the action: the Midlands are now the base of bmi's low-fare subsidiary, bmibaby
The airline's first international service started in 1978, when it gained authority to fly to Brussels, Frankfurt, and Dublin in a route swap with BA. British Midland's real expansion began in 1988, when SAS began an investment in the airline that would eventually amount to forty percent.
Much of the airline's recent success has been reliant on its lobbying skills: first against British Airways' monopoly on many UK domestic routes, and later against the Bermuda II Agreement keeping most airlines out of the US-Heathrow market.
In 2000, BM made a breakthrough when it was given authority to serve several U.S. cities from Manchester. After taking delivery of Airbus widebodies, the newly-christened bmi british midland began its first transatlantic services, to Washington Dulles and Chicago O'Hare. It is now part of the Star Alliance, and calls itself simply "bmi."
The fleet includes 3 Airbus A330s, 10 Airbus A321s, 8 Airbus A320s, 12 Boeing 737s, 6 Fokker 100s, 1 Fokker 70, and 11 Embraer ERJ-145s. New Airbuses are slated to replace older Boeings until bmi is operating an all-Airbus and Embraer fleet.
A note on the capitalization: British Midland was capitalized before 2000, when its name officially became "bmi british midland." The company is still officially called "British Midland Airways Ltd.," but it is only capitalized in legal documents, and not in the airline's own publications or in trade journals.