British Midland purchased their first Shorts 360 in 1983 and added another in 1984. Both of these aircraft, G-BMAJ and BMAR, passed to sister airline Manx Airlines in 1986, but were replaced that year by another pair G-BMLC and BMHX. The former almost immediately was sent to Loganair but HX served for nearly three years before joining the Scottish airline. In August 1996 she joined Flying Enterprise of Sweden as SE-LGE before returning to the UK in late 2000 as G-SSWC for Streamline Aviation. Three years later she was with Emerald Airways and by 2006 HD Air as G-TMRA. Her final destination was to have been the USA and she wore N163EA however she was not taken up and scrapped in 2009.
On the jet side by Autumn 1982 Midland had 5 short DC-9s. These were joined from January 1984 by the first larger series 32s. Both of the inital aircraft had similar histories. G-BMAM had been delivered in 1971 to East African as 5Y-ALR and when the carrier split up she went to Air Tanzania for 9 months in 1977. Leased to Alisarda as HB-IKC she became I-SARZ in mid 1983 prior to joining British Midland. All Midland’s DC-9s gained diamond related names in 1984 when the airline introduced its new branding with BMAM becoming ‘The Cullinan Diamond’. After a decade of service she was replaced by 737s and exported to South Africa for Sun Air as ZS-NRB. Stored in March 2004 she joined 1Time Aero and wasn’t broken up until May 2012.
To makeup for capacity shortages a pair of short BAC One-Elevens were leased in the early 80s from Dan Air, but the only other of the type to wear BD colours was G-WLAD, which was leased from Airways International Cymru in 1985. She was mainly operated from Leeds Bradford and Teeside but was transferred to Manx in mid 1987 and then impounded when Cymru went bankrupt. She was originally G-ATPI with British Eagle delivered in May 1967 but sold on to Quebecair with whom she was CF-QBO and then C-FQBO. Her last port of call was, like so many other One-Elevens, Nigeria when in May 1991 she became 5N-OVE with Okada Airlines.
Along with extra DC-9s and the Shorts replacement of the Viscount fleet was started with the introduction of Fokker F27s. Ten aircraft were operated altogether but only five ever saw extended service. G-BMAW was built in 1962 and delivered to East African Airways as VP-KSB (later 5Y-AAC). She moved to Air Tanzania in 1977 as 5H-MRH before being acquired by BD along with a sister-ship. Three of the F-27s were sold in 1988 to Mesaba aviation and this aircraft became N270MA until 1994 when she was sold to White Industries. Her registration was cancelled in February 1997.
Growth continued in the second half of the 1980s. On June 29, 1986 the airline's first international scheduled jet service commenced between Heathrow and Amsterdam and this was followed in December 1987 by the start of a Heathrow-Edinburgh route. The latter was accompanied by the introduction of a new 'Diamond Service' which included special inflight catering and lounge access. As this growth happened it was however time to say goodbye to the trusty Viscount which operated its last service on February 21, 1988. One aircraft, G-AZNA, got into the 1985 colours.
Entering into the 1990s Midland was in great shape, expanding its route network to other destinations such as Dublin, Paris and Brussels from Heathrow. It had also entered into partnership with SAS who bought a 24.9% share in 1988 and increased it to 40% in April 1992. As well as this the rest of the Airlines of Britain Group it led, Manx and Loganair, were doing well. The airline would continue to expand and grow through the 90s providing excellent service whilst competing against BA - its foothold at Heathrow giving it a lifeline that other British independents lacked.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: