Milwaukee County courting international airline

Officials at General Mitchell International Airport and the Milwaukee County Executive’s Office are in talks with an airline about offering new international flights from Milwaukee.

County Executive Chris Abele said at a Rotary Club of Wauwatosa meeting Wednesday that the county is making progress in discussions with an unnamed international carrier.

Abele also discussed the pitch to the international airline at a Rotary Club of Milwaukee meeting on Sept. 30, where he talked about his efforts to make Mitchell one of the best run, lowest cost, most efficient airports in the country to attract other airlines.

“I was recently involved in a pitch to a for now unnamed airline that does not currently offer service, but could, an international,” Abele said. “And what was interesting about it is a consultant that had been used by the airport for about two decades was presenting some numbers and trying to give the pitch about ‘Ok, here’s the number of flights to places you serve, the sort of use case, the business case, you could be profitable in this.’ And when the folks from the airline said afterwards, ‘Well, actually we think it’s a better case than that,’ It was one of those moments I have in life where I want to hit the pause button, ‘Hey, how much are we paying this guy to undersell our airport?’”

Neither Abele’s office nor Mitchell would provide additional details about the discussions.

“I think what he is referring to…is that there was a very positive discussion with an international carrier that the county has been ongoing, but that it’s still early and there’s certainly nothing finalized,” said Brendan Conway, a spokesman for Abele.

“There’s no specifics to provide,” Conway said. “There’s been some good discussions. When appropriate, the county executive is involved in conversations with airlines.”

“We’re always talking to different carriers, but we don’t have anything that’s going to be announced,” said Ryan McAdams, a spokesman for the airport.

Eight airlines currently serve Mitchell: Air Canada, AirTran Airways, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.

The airport currently offers nonstop international flights to Toronto, Canada; Cancun, Cozumel, Ixtapa and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Most of Mitchell’s international service is seasonal.

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