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Midwest Airlines

Midwest Airlines (formerly Midwest Express) was a U.S.-based airline and was also an operating brand of Republic Airways Holdings based in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Operating from Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport.

On April 13, 2010, parent company Republic announced that Midwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines would merge, with the Midwest brand disappearing in late 2011.  

Midwest Airlines' final flight operated with a Boeing 717 and staffed with Midwest Airlines flight crews landed in Milwaukee on November 2, 2009. Effective November 3, 2009, Midwest Airlines ceased to exist as an actual operating airline (allowing its DOT air carrier operator certificate to lapse). 


Midwest Airlines began life in 1948, when Kimberly-Clark began providing air transportation for company executives and engineers between the company's Neenah, Wisconsin headquarters and their mills. Early employee shuttle destinations included Chicago O'Hare, Memphis, and Atlanta's Fulton County Airport. In 1969, K-C Aviation was born from this, and was dedicated to the maintenance of corporate aircraft. 

After the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, Kimberly-Clark and K-C Aviation decided to form a regular scheduled passenger airline, and out of that initiative, Midwest Express started on June 11, 1984. At the time the airline had two DC-9's and 83 employees. Early plans for the airline called for it to serve Appleton, Chicago, and Atlanta. Kimberly-Clark opted against this plan after local resistance over the carrier's desire to serve Atlanta's Fulton County Airport, which is a general aviation airport on the city's west side. 

The airline slowly grew by adding Douglas DC-9 aircraft to its fleet. Eventually, Midwest Express served most major Midwestern and Eastern destinations. Their longtime slogan, The Best Care in the Air, represented their inflight product. For many years, all flights featured 2-by-2 leather seating, ample legroom, and inflight meals and cookies. This made the airline popular with business travelers. In addition, Midwest Express operated a sizable executive charter operation with a specially configured DC-9.



In the 1990s, Midwest Express began adding McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft to their fleet. The airline experienced steady growth along with continued profitability. Midwest Express also started their own regional subsidiary, Skyway Airlines, The Midwest Express Connection, to provide commuter airline service to small communities in Wisconsin and the surrounding region. Kimberly-Clark relinquished its ownership in two initial public offerings on September 22, 1995 and May 8, 1996. Its former parent company Midwest Air Group traded on the American Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "MEH." 

Midwest Express also added Midwest Vacations in the 1990s, naming GOGO Worldwide Vacations as the original partner to provide hotel service and later partnering with Mark Travel. Midwest Airlines Vacations continues to operate as a vacation provider. After fourteen years of profit-making, Midwest Express was affected with serious financial problems after the September 11 terrorist attacks. To return to profitability, the airline made major changes. First, they reconfigured some MD-80 series aircraft into a new 'Saver Service', featuring cloth coach seats in a 2-by-3 arrangement. Saver Service, while decreasing the width of the seats, continued to feature ample legroom. 


This service was initially offered from the Milwaukee and Kansas City hubs to leisure destinations such as Florida, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix on McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft. The airline's Signature Service was also affected by the financial difficulties. The signature gourmet meal services, which had been served on china after being cooked on board, were discontinued in 2002. 

Midwest Airlines was largely known for its Signature Service all business class seating arrangement, which included leather seats arranged 2-by-2 and fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies. In early 2008 the airline's publicly traded parent Midwest Air Group was taken over by the private investment firm TPG Capital with a minority investment by Northwest Airlines (now part of Delta Air Lines). The new owners halted airline operations by Midwest's Skyway Airlines subsidiary and contracted out all Midwest Connect flights. Skyway went on to provide ground services for Midwest flights. On June 23, 2009, Republic Airways acquired Midwest Airlines for $31 million.
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