Bmi british midland is suspending one of its two transatlantic services, preferring instead to place the aircraft with South African Airways (SAA) on lease.

The carrier originally ordered four Airbus A330-200s in anticipation of being able to operate them on transatlantic services from London Heathrow to the USA on a new UK-US bilateral. This has not materialised, and bmi decided to launch services from Manchester to Chicago and Washington instead.

Of its four A330s, bmi managed to defer the delivery of one, while another has remained parked at Manchester. The other two have operated the transatlantic services. The airline's chief executive Austin Reid said the lack of progress on deregulating the UK-US market had caused "considerable damage" to bmi.

The SAA deal will see two A330s going to Johannesburg on wet-lease, for 12 and five months respectively from December. Bmi's sole remaining A330 will continue to operate to Chicago, however the Washington service has been loss-making. Bmi says the route is only being suspended temporarily during the winter season, and will be resumed for summer 2003.

Source: Airline Business