We've gotten used to saying farewell to familiar airlines. In some cases -- Pan Am, for example -- we can't seem to stop. Soon, judging from recent developments, it will be BMI's turn.

Britain's perennial also-ran airline has never served the U.S., but with the advent of Open Skies it began to entertain that interesting opportunity. The alliance game, however, made the leap unnecessary. BMI joined Star and later became a subsidiary of Lufthansa, giving that alliance a valuable Heathrow opportunity.

Or so we thought. For reasons that elude us, Star and Lufthansa just couldn't make it work, and BMI is for sale, probably to British Airways.

We never expected every cross-border airline acquisition in the New Europe to work out, but Lufthansa's retreat and the likely absorption of BMI into British Airways just reinforces the entrenchment of Europe's legacy airlines back into their fortress hubs.

An opportunity lost.
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