Midwest Express signs agreement with Maine airline to launch service

Service expected to launch by end of the year

Midwest Airlines plane
A Midwest Airlines plane

Last updated on August 28th, 2019 at 03:50 pm

The group working to re-launch Midwest Express Airlines in Milwaukee announced today that it has signed an agreement with Portland, Maine-based Elite Airways LLC to begin non-stop flight service from Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee.

No details about when Midwest Express service will begin or what destinations will be served from Milwaukee were announced. Greg Aretakis, president of Midwest Express, said the focus of the initial routes and flight times will be based on business community needs. He said the airline expects to announce details about its service in the coming weeks.

Midwest Express service is expected to begin during the fourth quarter of this year, said Rick Kummerow, executive vice president of investor relations for the airline. Destinations will be announced in a few weeks, he said.

“We continue to be encouraged by the support we are getting as we talk to leaders in the business community,” Aretakis said in a news release.

Elite Airways will operate the initial aircraft and provide flight crews and maintenance service for Midwest Express, according to a news release. Midwest Express will establish its own reservations system, customer service operations and in-flight amenities to support the new flights. All public-facing customer interaction, including the branding on the planes, will be Midwest Express. In addition to providing flight operations, Elite will work in tandem with Midwest to complete regulatory and operational requirements for Midwest to obtain its own airline operating certificate and aircraft.

Elite Airways was founded in 2006. It provides chartered and scheduled service throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, and South America.

“This agreement with Elite Airways is a key step to bringing much-needed nonstop service back to Milwaukee,” said Aretakis. “We identified Elite Airways as a well-suited partner due to its extensive operating experience, high-quality customer service approach, and exemplary safety record. By partnering with Elite, we expedite bringing our service to the market while we pursue federal licenses required to operate independently.”

Originally known as Midwest Express, Midwest Airlines was previously based in Oak Creek and had its main hub at Mitchell International. Midwest Airlines was acquired by Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings in 2009, it was merged into Denver-based Frontier Airlines and in 2011 the Midwest Airlines brand was eliminated.

The former airline enjoyed a loyal following, especially among Milwaukee area business travelers, thanks in part to its spacious seats and chocolate chip cookies. The airline provided direct service from Milwaukee to numerous destinations around the U.S.

A group of business and airline professionals announced in 2017 plans to relaunch the airline. In May 2018, the group completed a $750,000 fund raise and said it would seek to raise another $6 million to $8 million in the next 12 months.

In April, Midwest Express announced it has leased an office in the MKE Regional Business Park near Mitchell International Airport for its corporate headquarters.

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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