Midwest Express hopes to launch service in January

Reservation system expected to be online before Christmas

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The revived Midwest Express Airlines plans to have its reservation system up and running by Christmas and hopes to launch it first flights in January, Midwest Express president Greg Aretakis said Friday.

The startup airline is working on establishing its e-commerce infrastructure.

“We are continuing to make progress,” Aretakis said. “We are trying to get everything done and ready to go.”

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Since Midwest Express’ target market is business travelers, it will be better for the airline to launch after the holidays, Aretakis said. The holidays are dominated by leisure travel with little business travel occurring, he said.

The revival of Midwest Express will generate an economic impact of more than $48 million annually, Aretakis said at an Independent Business Association of Wisconsin event held at the Wisconsin Club.

Midwest Express plans to create 272 direct jobs and 207 indirect jobs, which will generate nearly $30 million in new salaries per year, Aretakis said. A total of $17.6 million will be “re-spent” in Wisconsin while $1.3 million will be paid in state and local taxes, he added.

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The airline will offer nonstop flights from Milwaukee to three initial destinations: Cincinnati; Omaha, Nebraska and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Those are the most common destinations that Milwaukee area business leaders have told Midwest Express executives that are needed for nonstop service from Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport.

Aretakis said that while larger airlines compete in an “arms race” to increase both size and capacity of their airplanes, Midwest Express will stick to its 50-seat model. And with larger airlines pulling flights from cities like Boston and New York, he expects opportunities down the line for Midwest Express to add more routes to and from Milwaukee serving business travelers.

With its smaller planes, Midwest Express will be able to offer service to regional business destinations that larger airlines are not serving, Aretakis said.

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Midwest Express president Greg Aretakis discusses the airline’s plans, Friday at the Wisconsin Club during an Independent Business Association of Wisconsin event.

“I suspect, and I’m saying this as an analyst, I suspect there are other routes that are in the short business-oriented zone that they’re also going to pull out of,” Aretakis said. “Because the planes have gotten bigger and they can no longer justify the service.”

Aretakis also said many airlines have had nine years to consider flights destinations from Milwaukee that Midwest Express has identified as core routes, adding that he doesn’t see larger airlines following suit.

“I just don’t see them creating a model just for 50-seaters and frankly, 50-seat airplanes are being reduced by United, American and Delta and they’re moving to bigger and bigger airplanes,” Aretakis said.

However, it’s also Midwest Express’ “cultural backbone, customer service and on-time performance” that will drive the airline’s success, Aretakis added.

“If you give (customers) good flight times and you fly where they want to go and you don’t insult their intelligence with the price, you build your own competitive advantage,” he said.

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