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The US Could See the Return of a Popular Domestic Airline

June 02, 2018
3 min read
The US Could See the Return of a Popular Domestic Airline
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A popular airline that disappeared eight years ago is looking to make a comeback. Investors are looking to bring back Midwest Express Airlines and the airline could be flying again as soon as 2020.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that SEC filings show two investors have already infused $750,000 in cash to revive Midwest Express.

“Our goal is to bring back Midwest Express — the brand and all the brand elements that made it so popular the first time around,” Christine Williams, spokeswoman for the company’s three officers, told the Journal. “This is just the first step in a series of steps we need to take.”

Originally based in Milwaukee (MKE) and with a hub in Kansas City (MCI), the airline started passenger service in 1984 and was named Midwest Express Airlines. The carrier operated a fleet of Boeing 717s, DC-9s, Embraer 170s, Embraer 190s and MD-80s. Known for large recliner chairs, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, good food and great service, the airline was quite popular for Midwestern travelers.

After the September 11th attacks Midwest Express started to struggle financially and renamed itself as Midwest Airlines. Midwest was purchased by Republic Airways Holdings in 2009 (Republic now serves as regional subsidiary for the major US airlines). Just a year later, Midwest was merged with budget carrier Frontier Airlines and the Midwest brand was soon put to bed.

The new airline would cater to both business and leisure travelers and would reestablish Milwaukee as its hub city. What routes those will be currently is unclear. Details are unknown about the carrier's potential business model, too — will it fashion itself as a low-cost carrier, as many airlines are doing these days, or will it go back to its roots of offering great service at reasonable prices? Potential competitors include Southwest, which has a large presence in Milwaukee. Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier and United all operate flights from Wisconsin's largest city, too.

“We’re looking at aggressively getting this going as quickly as we can. We would love to have something in the next one to two years, at the most,” Williams said. To expand that quickly, Midwest may have to buy a small, existing airline's fleet and have staff ready to go — Williams says the airline has "been working on both."

And don't fret, Williams told the Journal that the airline will in fact be bringing back the famous chocolate chip cookies. Hopefully we'll even see the return of the carrier's loyalty program, Midwest Miles.

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