When Midwest Express returns, Elite Airways will fly the planes

A Midwest Express DC-9 from 2001.
A Midwest Express DC-9 from 2001. Photo Credit: Aero Icarus

The nascent Midwest Express, which aims to bring the Milwaukee-based airline brand back to the skies, has signed an agreement with Maine-based Elite Airways to operate initial service. 

"This agreement with Elite Airways is a key step to bringing much-needed nonstop service back to Milwaukee," Midwest Express president Greg Aretakis said in a prepared statement. "We identified Elite Airways as a well-suited partner due to its extensive operating experience, high-quality customer service approach and exemplary safety record."

The company has not announced a launch date or any planned routes, but Aretakis said such details will be unveiled in the coming weeks. He added that initial routes and flight times will be based on the Milwaukee business community's needs.  

The original Midwest Express, which endeared customers with its warm chocolate chip cookies, was once Milwaukee's largest carrier. Midwest Express ceased operations in 2009. 

Milwaukee was also once a focus city for AirTran and Frontier. Southwest, which acquired AirTran in 2011, currently has the largest market share in Milwaukee at 43% for the 12 months that ended in April, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Aretakis, a former vice president at Midwest Express, is part of a team that first declared its plan to revive the brand in 2017. 

Elite Airways, founded in 2006, flies a fleet of Bombardier regional jets to eight locations along the East Coast as well as Bimini in the Bahamas. 

Midwest Express said Tuesday that it intends to eventually secure its own air certificate in order to operate independently. In the meantime, Elite will operate flights on aircraft sporting the Midwest Express livery. Elite will provide flight crews and maintenance. 

Midwest Express will establish its own reservation systems, customer service operations and in-flight amenities.

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