UK carrier BMI is to take two Boeing 757-200s on two-year damp-lease from the UK’s Astraeus while it seeks suitable Airbus A330s to add to its fleet.

Star Alliance member BMI, which outlined its plans to add five Airbus A330s last July, will use the 757s to develop its medium-haul network from London Heathrow.

It plans to improve its services to Almaty in Kazakhstan, the Sierra Leone capital Freetown and Tel Aviv in Israel. But as part the network revamp BMI is axing its services between Heathrow and Dakar in Senegal.

BMI chief executive Nigel Turner says: “The delivery of suitable Airbus A330 aircraft is a little way off and we do not want to delay the range of service enhancements unveiled today.

“By leasing the two Boeing 757s, pending the sourcing of suitable A330 aircraft, we are able to accelerate our Heathrow growth and ensure that we can maintain the momentum of our mid-haul route strategy, laying strong foundations for future developments in this important market.”

BMI is taking the 757s on an initial two-year lease with an option to extend. The aircraft, which will be configured in a two-class layout, will be manned by Astraeus flight crew and BMI cabin staff.

Turner says the routes formerly operated by British Airways franchise carrier BMed are performing extremely well, with strong passenger number and revenue growth. He adds that the services, which were integrated into BMI’s network in November, are already having a positive effect on the business.

“Their performance is a clear vindication of the sound strategic decision we made to invest in the acquisition of BMed to further develop our mid-haul network at London Heathrow,” he says.

BMI will use the 757s to switch its Almaty and Freetown links to non-stop from 1 May, cutting journey times by up to two hours. Almaty will gain a fourth weekly frequency.

The airline says its new A320-operated Heathrow-Tel Aviv link, which is due to start on 13 March, is selling beyond expectations. Soon after route launch BMI will upgrade six weekly frequencies to the larger 757, increasing capacity on the route.

Source:'s sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news