Dave Reid

It’s the End of Midwest Airlines as We Know It

By - Jun 25th, 2009 09:39 am
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It has been fun, it has been a great flight, but this is the end of Midwest Airlines as we know it.  The Republic Airways’ buyout of Midwest Airlines certainly will accelerate their slow transition from a luxury first class airline, to an inexpensive low cost carrier.  Sure, the name might stick around for awhile, but for starters our hometown, local airline, isn’t local anymore.  At one time Midwest Airlines was a uniquely positioned airline that differentiated themselves by offering far superior services at reasonable prices, any hint of those days is coming to an end.  Yes, the cookies will stay for now, and it looks like Republic Airways will be adding more non-stop destinations to the schedule, but soon enough we won’t recognize the airline with Midwest Airline’s name on it.

In addition to the change in business model and ownership, Midwest is facing two new competitors that are sure to impact the market place. AirTran’s recent expansion in to Mitchell International has already begun eroding Midwest’s market share, and it’s almost guaranteed that with Southwest‘s arrival at Mitchell International in November, Midwest’s market share will continue to erode.  That said, this is actually a benefit for Milwaukee, as Mitchell Field will likely see what is known as the “Southwest Effect.”  For a community this generally means lower fares, more flights, and more travelers.  Yes, the airfare wars are coming to Milwaukee.

This combination of new rivals and cost cutting measures that are sure to come with the buyout make it likely that the few remaining luxury services that Midwest has left, will soon be abandoned.  Milwaukee might be losing out on “Signature Service,” and maybe down the road chocolate chip cookies, but that might not be the end of the world because in the near future residents of Wisconsin will be “free (well inexpensive) to move about the country.”

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11 thoughts on “It’s the End of Midwest Airlines as We Know It”

  1. Tim C says:

    This is great news. I sense a huge influx of new travelers coming to the airport as an easy way to dodge O’Hare’s heavy congestion (although I don’t want to call Mitchell “Chicago’s 3rd airport” just by principle). I look to see how the city of Milwaukee is going to take advantage of this. I sense that, if the city adjusts to the possible influx, Milwaukee could really see a small boom. I’m a optimist so I hope this is the case.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Tim I’m of course sad to see Midwest fading away, but I’ve long hoped for Southwest to come to Milwaukee. I believe in the long run this could be the push that gets the additional runway built and maybe like what happened in Baltimore we could eventually see more international travel as well. Finally, clearly we will see many more folks come up from Illinois to fly Southwest, which is good for Milwaukee too.

  3. Jeff Jordan says:

    Airports will soon be nothing but the destination of flying buses. There is no cache in flying anymore. The few people that can fly first class have to suffer the coach passengers stumbling through their space bumping their heads with to much and to large carry on. (I’ve often wondered why the airlines didn’t board 1st class last to spare them the indignity of experiencing this parade.)
    What Milwaukee will miss is the corporate presence of the airline. Make no mistake the civic goodwill is now going to be showered on Indianapolis. The Alterra people might as well expect their services and products will be replaced by another vendor. We will miss Midwest in ways that most people never think about. The tickets donated to local charities for auction an other benefits will slowly but surely be lost.
    Yes, it will be better for Mitchel and Milwaukee, if Walker doesn’t sell off the franchise, but we have lost another cooperate headquarters.

  4. Dave Reid says:

    @Jeff Of course the loss of corporate giving is a concern, but I believe the net impact of these three airlines coming together now will actually be more flights, better prices, more jobs, and more travelers flying out of Mitchell.

  5. M says:

    With the increased airline competition at the airport it offers more options for travelers and it makes the bid of the Olympics in Chicago in 2016 much more solid.

  6. Dave Reid says:

    @M That’s definitely true.

  7. BJP says:

    So how exactly are you defining “hometown airline”? Did everyone miss the fact that for the last two years, Midwest has been owned by one company based in Minneapolis (NW Airlines) and another based in Ft Worth TX (TPG)? Midwest has one of the most rabid brand followings of any airline – do you really think Republic would do away with the cookies, the local corporate philanthropy, the Brewers sponsorship, and risk alienating their best customers? This purchase is a good thing, as is increased competition. It will mean more nonstop routes, lower fares, newer planes, more jobs, and more choice for anyone flying out of Mitchell.

  8. Dave Reid says:

    @BJP The key to Midwest’s brand was high-end service. I certainly believe prices will be pushed down and we will see more flights (not just Midwest but Southwest and Airtran will push this). But to make the numbers work in the long run yes I believe all the high-end features we have come to enjoy will go away, as has alreday been slowly happening for the past few years.

  9. NAH says:

    @Dave Reid. When was the last time you flew on Midwest? 1987?

    The remaining big seats will likely go away… but that’s not a bad thing. Hemmoraging jobs, airplanes, and money while trying to hang on to big seats that people aren’t willing to pay for is a bad thing.

    Midwest isn’t going anywhere.

  10. Dave Reid says:

    @NAH I fly Midwest a few times a year. That said the quality, and level of service is what made Midwest special, and yes I’ve paid more for a seat on Midwest than other airlines because of the comfort and service. But this will in the near future, no longer be the airline we (as a customer) all used to love. The things that made it Midwest will be phased out until it is just another low cost carry. And low cost carriers are great for the number of flights, prices and destinations. But sad because the loyalty, the brand is (will be) lost. Something is lost when transitioning from a Ferrari to Chevy..

  11. NAH says:

    @Dave Reid. I think MidEx will manage to walk a very fine line here. The people are at it’s core, and the ones that remain are the best and the brightest.

    Thanks for the reply. Take care.

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