British Mediterranean Airways

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British Mediterranean Airways
IATA ICAO Callsign
Ceased operations2007
HubsLondon Heathrow Airport
Frequent-flyer programExecutive Club
Fleet size8
Parent companyBritish Midland International
HeadquartersLondon Borough of Hounslow, England, United Kingdom
Key peopleLord Hesketh
David Richardson
Chief Executive (defunct)

British Mediterranean Airways Limited, trading as B|MED, was an airline with operations from London Heathrow Airport in England. It operated scheduled services as a British Airways franchise to 17 destinations in 16 countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia from London Heathrow. In February 2007, the airline was purchased by BMI, and continued as a British Airways franchise until the night of 27 October 2007, when it was absorbed into, and rebranded as, bmi.

Before the takeover it was headquartered at the Hetherington House in London Borough of Hounslow, near London Heathrow Airport.[1][2] At an earlier point it was headquartered at the Cirrus House in the Borough of Hounslow,[3][4] near Staines-upon-Thames and Stanwell, Surrey.[3][5] At an earlier point its head office was in the City of Westminster.[6]

The company held a United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority Type A Operating Licence permitting it to carry passengers, cargo and mail on aircraft with 20 or more seats.[7] The licence was revoked on 31 January 2008.[8]


Airbus A320 in 2003
Airbus A321 in 2003

British Mediterranean Airways was established as a limited company in 1994 by a group of private investors led by Lord Hesketh.[9] It began operations on 28 October that year.[citation needed] The airline operated the Airbus A320 from London Heathrow to Beirut, Lebanon.[9] Damascus in Syria and Amman in Jordan were added to the network the following year, and the airline began flying a fortnightly charter service to Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan.[citation needed]

In March 1997 the airline reached an agreement with British Airways, with BA withdrawing its competing services to Beirut, Damascus and Amman, leaving British Mediterranean as the sole operator on a BA franchise basis. Under this agreement the airline traded as British Airways, with all flights operated under BA flight codes (the range BA6500-6669 were allocated to BMED flights). All BMED aircraft were presented in full British Airways livery, appointed with the same interior and class product as the BA main fleet, and staff wore the BA uniform. BMED flights were booked through British Airways and the airline participated in BA's Executive Club and BA Miles programme. BMED was an affiliate member of Oneworld.

With the franchise agreement, British Mediterranean's operations moved from Heathrow's Terminal 3 to Terminal 4, allowing greater integration with the BA network. The airline greatly benefited from the franchise arrangement, taking over unprofitable BA mainline services better suited to BMED's lower cost base, to destinations such as Baku, Tehran, Addis Ababa and Almaty. British Mediterranean also launched a number of routes on its own, backed by the global sales and marketing of British Airways, as well as feeder traffic to and from Heathrow.

In 2004 BMED carried 277,000 passengers on its 6 aircraft, to 18 destinations in 17 countries. At that time BMED had flights to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. British Mediterranean Airways rebranded as BMED in November 2004, stating that the shorter name and revamped logo would help strengthen the airline's image.

On 12 March 2007, it was revealed that the airline was flying a "ghost flight" between London Heathrow and Cardiff International Airport six times a week. No seats were sold for the flight, and it was not announced in arrivals or departures, or on airport information screens. The flight was only made in order for BMED to retain a valuable take-off slot at London Heathrow, unused since it scrapped flights to Uzbekistan. Airlines with landing rights at London Heathrow are liable to lose them if they do not make at least 80% use of their allocation over a six-month session.[10]

On 5 April 2007, G-MEDL was used to return 15 British Navy personnel captured by Iranian forces from Tehran to London Heathrow.

Sale to BMI[edit]

Following a period of losses, the airline was bought by BMI for £30 million in February 2007.[11] The acquisition marked a change in strategy for BMI by focusing on more medium to long-haul routes. BMED's route network complemented BMI's existing routes.

The British Airways franchise ended on 27 October 2007, when the airline was fully absorbed into BMI branding. Aircraft were gradually repainted in the BMI livery, and flights received BMI's flight codes. As part of the acquisition, BMI sold BMED's Heathrow slots to British Airways for £30 million, to be transferred in late 2008.


BMED served the following on behalf of British Airways, from their hub at London Heathrow Airport:

  • Armenia - Yerevan
  • Azerbaijan - Baku
  • Ethiopia - Addis Ababa
  • Egypt - Alexandria
  • Georgia - Tbilisi
  • Iran - Tehran
  • Jordan - Amman
  • Kazakhstan - Almaty
  • Kyrgyzstan - Bishkek
  • Lebanon - Beirut
  • Russia - Ekaterinburg
  • Senegal - Dakar
  • Sierra Leone - Freetown
  • Sudan - Khartoum
  • Syria - Aleppo, Damascus
  • Turkey - Ankara
  • Turkmenistan - Ashgabat
  • Uzbekistan - Tashkent

Incidents and accidents[edit]

On 31 March 2003 a British Mediterranean Airbus A320 was involved in a serious incident while approaching Addis Ababa Airport, Ethiopia. The pilots were unaware of a significant discrepancy in the aircraft flight management system position caused by the sole navigational beacon transmitting erroneous data. This same beacon was also being used to navigate the approach. The crew executed a go-around, the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) "TERRAIN AHEAD, PULL UP" audio warning was triggered too late to be of any help, and later analysis showed that the aircraft passed within 56 ft of terrain at its closest point.[12] The AAIB determined that improper maintenance of the ADS VOR Beacon had allowed water ingress causing the erroneous signal, which should have been detected by monitoring equipment, but this had been disconnected during construction work. Also, the Airbus EGPWS design relied on the same positional information as navigation system.[13]


Former BMED A320 (G-MEDH) in hybrid BMI livery in October 2011

The BMED fleet consisted of the following aircraft (at 27 October 2007)

These aircraft were passed on to BMI


  1. ^ "Contact." British Mediterranean Airways. 26 June 2006. Retrieved on 20 May 2009. "BMED Hetherington House, Bedfont Road London Heathrow Airport Middlesex TW19 7NL, UK "
  2. ^ "Maps & GIS Archived 27 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine." London Borough of Hounslow. Retrieved on 20 May 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Contact." British Mediterranean Airways. 10 December 2004. Retrieved on 21 November 2011. "BMED Cirrus House, Bedfont Road London Heathrow Airport Staines, Middlesex TW19 7NL, UK "
  4. ^ "FAQ's -> How can I find out about employment opportunities with BMed?." British Mediterranean Airways. 12 February 2004. Retrieved on 21 November 2011. "Please write to us at : British Mediterranean Airways Human Resources Manager Cirrus House Bedfont Road London Heathrow Airport Staines Middlesex TW19 7NL England"
  5. ^ "Details of Planning Application - 10/03822/LB Archived April 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine." London Borough of Croydon. Retrieved on 21 November 2011. "Amey Built Environment Cirrus House Bedfont Road Stanwell Middlesex TW19 7NL"
  6. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 29 March-4 April 1995. 62. "Cirrus House, Bedfont House, Staines, Middlesex, TW19 7NL, UK"
  7. ^ Type A Operating Licence Holders Archived March 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Civil Aviation Authority Consumer Protection Group Official Record Series 2 Number 1835, 5 February 2008 (ISSN 0306-4654)
  9. ^ a b "Company History." British Mediterranean Airways. 26 November 2005. Retrieved on 21 November 2011.
  10. ^ "BBC News- Green anger at 'ghost flights'," BBC
  11. ^ Alistair Osborne (3 February 2007). "Bmi takes control of BMED in £30m deal". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  12. ^ "British Mediterranean A320 at Addis Abeba on Mar 31st 2003". Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  13. ^ "Report on the accident to Airbus A320-231, G-MEDA On approach to Addis Abeba Airport, Ethiopia" (PDF). UK AAIB. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 2010-06-11. ()

External links[edit]