Michael Bishop, Baron Glendonbrook

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The Lord Glendonbrook

Member of the House of Lords
Assumed office
22 March 2011
Personal details
Michael David Bishop

10 February 1942 (1942-02-10) (age 78)[1]
Bowdon, Cheshire, England
Political partyConservative
Net worthDecrease £200 million (2013)[2]

Michael David Bishop, Baron Glendonbrook, CBE (born 10 February 1942) is a British businessman and life peer who rose to prominence as owner of the airline BMI. He sold his stake in the airline to Lufthansa on 1 July 2009 and (as of 2008) had an estimated personal fortune of £280 million.[3] He was one of the country's first openly gay senior executives.[4]

Early life[edit]

Michael Bishop was born in Bowdon, Cheshire. The son of a factory boss, aged six he was given a pleasure flight, and in 1949 his parents took him on an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin in search of chocolate, a rarity in the post-war rationing in Manchester.[5]

Educated at the independent Mill Hill School in north London, he enjoyed flying and as a result took a series of school holiday jobs with an aerial photographer.[6]

British Midland[edit]

In 1963, Bishop joined the ground handling operation of Manchester-based Mercury Airlines, a schedule and charter airline, which was taken over by British Midland Airways (later re-branded as BMI) in October 1964. Bishop joined British Midland, and rose to become General Manager of the airline in 1969 and Managing Director in 1972.

In 1978, the London-based Minster Assets investment group, which owned British Midland, decided to sell its stake. With the help of an entrepreneurial Californian dentist, Bishop raised £2.5 million to lead the management buy-out, and was subsequently appointed chairman: "I had to borrow the money from an American citizen. Most venture capitalists want a return of 40% to make up for all their other failures, and they want an exit strategy."[5] From 1969 he was the key driving force behind the steady growth of the airline, which held eleven percent of the landing and take-off slots at London Heathrow Airport, second only to British Airways,[6] and had a route network spanning Europe, North America, Asia and Africa.

Bishop formerly held a controlling 50% + 1 share stake of BMI, with German airline Lufthansa holding 30% minus 1 share, and SAS Airlines a further 20%. In October 2008, under a deal agreed in 1999 as part of the package for BMI to join the Star Alliance,[6] Bishop agreed to sell his 50% stake to Lufthansa for an undisclosed sum, though reports suggested it was about £318m.[7] BDLH (LH's holding vehicle) acquired Bishop's share on 1 July 2009, assuming full control of the company.

Honours and appointments[edit]

Between 1991 and 1993, Bishop was deputy chairman of Channel 4 television, becoming chairman from 1993 to 1997.[8] He was also a board member at Sir Nigel Rudd's Williams plc., and deputy chairman at Airtours.[6]

In 1986, he was appointed CBE,[9] and in 1991 he was knighted.[10] He was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D) from the University of Leicester on 12 July 2007.

In an annual survey by The Independent of the UK's most influential gay men and women, Bishop was ranked as number 5 in 2005 and number 6 in 2006.[11]

In February 2011, Bishop was created a life peer as Baron Glendonbrook, of Bowdon in the County of Cheshire,[12][13] and was introduced in the House of Lords the next month,[14] where he sits as a Conservative.

Personal life[edit]

Bishop is openly gay and, since 2008, has spoken out publicly about gay rights[15] and success in the workplace.[16] He is often referred to as "dapper" by the press, to note his keen sense of elegance.

A member of the Conservative Party since the age of 17, he is chairman of the Board of Trustees of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company—which promotes and sometimes, in recent years, has returned to producing the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan—due to his personal financial sponsorship.[17][18] Bishop lives in London[19] and at Bruern Abbey, West Oxfordshire, having purchased the 18th-century property in 2013. The Abbey has been completely refurbished under his ownership, including the installation of 'a large and impressive cantilever stone staircase and twenty-five kilometres of data cabling' as well as a 'large underground car park'.[20]


  • British Independent Airlines since 1946, Merseyside Aviation Society, Liverpool, 1976, ISBN 0-902420-07-0
  1. ^ "Researcha".[dead link]
  2. ^ Redrup, Yolanda (25 January 2009). "About Us". Smartcompany.com.au. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  3. ^ Sunday Times Rich List (27 April 2008). "Sir Michael Bishop". The Times. London. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  4. ^ "Businesses". BBC News. 14 August 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2009.
  5. ^ a b Clark, Andrew (18 May 2002). "A generation game". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  6. ^ a b c d O'Connell, Dominic (2 November 2008). "Lufthansa roars into Heathrow". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  7. ^ "BMI being taken over by Lufthansa". BBC News. 29 October 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  8. ^ "Sir Michael Bishop: Quiet man of BMI has full-throttle air rage". The Independent. London. 9 May 2004. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  9. ^ "No. 50551". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 1986. p. 7.
  10. ^ "No. 52858". The London Gazette. 10 March 1992. p. 4257.
  11. ^ "Gay Power: The pink list". News.independent.co.uk. 2 July 2006. Archived from the original on 7 January 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  12. ^ "No. 59690". The London Gazette. 4 February 2011. p. 1953.
  13. ^ "Baronies". The Times. 4 February 2011. p. 57.
  14. ^ House of Lords Minute of Proceedings for 22 March 2011.
  15. ^ Taylor, Jerome (19 August 2008). "A revolution in the boardroom". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  16. ^ "Businesses 'retain gay prejudice'". BBC News. 14 August 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2009.
  17. ^ "Twenty Questions: Sir Michael Bishop, owner and chairman of British". The Independent. 26 July 2000. Archived from the original on 4 August 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2008.
  18. ^ Sanderson, David. "Lord Glendonbrook fights to keep light opera afloat", The Times, 16 March 2020
  19. ^ "– Search for Michael David Bishop in London". 192.com. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  20. ^ Vickers, Alan. "Sympathetic Refurbishment of Bruern Abbey", The Wychwood, Volume 36 No 4, October/November 2015
Media offices
Preceded by
Richard Attenborough
Chairman of Channel 4
Succeeded by
Vanni Treves
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Lord Stirrup
Baron Glendonbrook
Followed by
The Lord Gold