Star Alliance members bmi (formerly British Midland) and United have applied to the U.S. government for approval to form an alliance similar to the alliance of Northwest and KLM. The Times of London reports that the companies would continue to remain separate and effectively merge their transatlantic operations. Passengers booking flights would interact with only one airline. The U.S. government rejected a proposal to create an alliance between United and bmi five years ago, but the recent “open skies” agreement will lift transatlantic restrictions and the Times quotes bmi’s chief executive Nigel Turner as saying, “We want to put in place all the steps now to fully take advantage of ‘open skies’.” In other bmi news, there were rumors that British Airways was considering making a bid for the airline, but later reports denied the news. Virgin Atlantic Airways and Lufthansa also are reportedly looking at making a bid for bmi — all this speculation is the result of the recent open skies agreement between the U.S. and Europe making bmi suddenly very attractive with its landing slots at Heathrow airport. As with any talks of mergers, it’s hard to say what the future will be and how this might effect frequent flyers until the ink has dried on the contracts.