Midwest Airlines is ending BWI service in September

BUSINESS DIGEST

July 22, 2008|By Laura McCandlish | Laura McCandlish,Sun reporter

Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines, scrambling to avoid bankruptcy, will drop service to Baltimore and 10 other cities in September as it cuts more than a quarter of its daily schedule.

The reductions follow the airline's recent decision to lay off 40 percent of its work force and ground its entire fleet of older, gas-guzzling Boeing MD-80 planes. Sky-high oil prices forced Midwest to slash its longer flights that burned more fuel but didn't command high-enough fares to offset those increased costs, said Randall K. Smith, the carrier's vice president of sales and distribution.

"Baltimore-Washington International was one of 11 markets that could not be justified at current fuel prices," Smith said in an e-mail yesterday.

Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport will lose three daily nonstop flights between Baltimore and Milwaukee on Midwest Connect, Midwest Airlines' regional jet, as of Sept. 8. That means BWI will be left with no direct flights to Milwaukee when AirTran Airways' seasonal service there also stops in September. AirTran's two daily flights to Milwaukee are scheduled to resume for the vacation season next spring, BWI spokesman Jonathan Dean said.

"BWI will make the case to AirTran for continuing the route on a year-round basis," Dean said. "There is demand for service between the two markets."

Orlando, Fla.-based AirTran, the No. 2 carrier at BWI, has struggled to bolster its Milwaukee presence. Its hostile takeover bid to acquire Midwest Airlines was rebuffed last year.

The reductions announced Sunday will leave Midwest with service to 32 cities. Midwest Airlines is dropping all flights to San Diego, and to Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers in Florida. In addition to Baltimore, regional jet flights to Hartford, Conn.; Louisville, Ky.; Muskegon, Mich.; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; St. Louis; San Antonio; and Wausau/Stevens Point, Wis., are being axed.

Midwest also slashed a nonstop route between Kansas City, Kan., and Orlando and scaled Milwaukee-Orlando flights back to seasonal.

Current direct flights from Milwaukee to Los Angeles and Seattle will now make stops en route in Kansas City.

The announced cuts will leave Midwest with 102 daily departures systemwide, down from the 138 the airline has now. Most of Midwest's flights are through Milwaukee.

laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com

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