July 23, 2008

AirTran Poised to Add Flights: More Trips Expected As Midwest Trims Routes

By Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Jul. 23--AirTran Airways is expected to announce today plans to beef up its service from Milwaukee to Baltimore and to several Florida destinations -- a reaction to coming service cuts by Midwest Airlines.

AirTran plans to convert its Baltimore seasonal service to year-around service, according to a source familiar with the airline's plans.

The Orlando, Fla.-based carrier will drop flights to Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., as of Sept. 3. AirTran started its Milwaukee-Washington service in April but was unable to gain slotting rights for more than one daily roundtrip flight. Reagan National and Baltimore-Washington International Airport are about 35 miles apart.AirTran's schedule to Florida will have more flights to Orlando; more service to Fort Lauderdale; flights to Tampa broadened from seasonal to year-round service; and service to Fort Myers increased from weekly to daily flights. AirTran also plans to add flights to its Milwaukee-Las Vegas run.

Those changes will occur from September through December.

Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers are among the destinations that Midwest Airlines and its Midwest Connect regional carrier are dropping.

Midwest also is scaling back its Milwaukee-Orlando run to seasonal service and is cutting its Las Vegas run from three daily departures to two daily departures.

Last year AirTran mounted a hostile takeover attempt of Midwest Air Group Inc., the Oak Creek-based corporate parent of Midwest Airlines and Midwest Connect. Midwest Air was instead sold to TPG Capital, a Fort Worth, Texas, investment firm, and Northwest Airlines Corp. of Eagan, Minn.

Northwest, which owns a 47% stake in Midwest Air, said Monday it will begin offering nonstop service from Milwaukee to Los Angeles in September. Midwest is dropping its nonstop service to Los Angeles, instead offering service with one stop at its Kansas City, Mo., hub.

AirTran will be making other service reductions in September, but those were already known because they were started in May as seasonal routes. Those are flights from Milwaukee to Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego and Boston.

Record-high jet fuel prices led Midwest to announce on Sunday a service reduction of 30% to 40%. The company also is cutting 40% of its 3,000-plus work force.

AirTran expected to add flights as Midwest makes cuts


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