ACMI is a common term in aviation that stands for Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance services that are offered to a client to effectively outsource the key functions of aircraft operations to a third party. ACMI operations are quite common in business aircraft as well as the commercial and cargo aviation world.
While ACMI entails multiple services, there are a number of common variants, including A, cMI, CMI, aCMI, ACMI, and Charter that can be confusing, and span a variety of activities with differing elements. Let’s examine the options available in the market and the particular nuances of each, which are summarized in the following table:
A stands for Aircraft and represents a traditional “dry lease” of an aircraft, in which the operator covers all crew, maintenance, insurance, and operating costs for the aircraft, including fuel and catering expenses.
cMI stands for a suite of services for an aircraft owner that includes Pilots (part of crew, hence lower case) but not flight attendants, maintenance and insurance, leaving the aircraft, flight attendants, and operating costs to the operator. This typically occurs where the operator already owns an aircraft, but needs assistance with operations.
CMI is similar to cMI, but adds the flight attendants to the mix, leaving operating costs, fuel, and catering to the aircraft owner.
aCMI is identical to CMI, with the lower case indicating no aircraft in the mix.
ACMI provides the aircraft with crew, maintenance and insurance into the mix, with operating costs, fuel, and catering the responsibility of the operator. This is the most common method of outsourcing operations for airlines and companies.
Charter is basically full outsourcing with a third party handling every aspect of an operation, including operating costs, fuel, and catering, and charging an all-inclusive fee to the airline or company client. Often, these services, while operated by a third party, are branded by the client airline or company to meet business needs.
The Bottom Line: There are several acronyms and definitions associated with third-party services to airlines and business aviation. The guide and table above provide a quick reference as to the responsibility of the service providers (green) and their customers (red).