Midwest Express, what are you doing?

This news bite made me think about our hometown airline:

Mitchell International Airport served a record 7.96 million passengers in 2008, a 3.2% increase from 2007. But the passenger count for the last four months of 2008 fell because of flight reductions by Midwest Airlines and other carriers, the airport announced today.

The passenger total for the first eight months of 2008 was up 9.4% compared with the same period in 2007. The passenger total for the last four months of 2008 decreased 10% compared with the year-earlier period.

Oak Creek-based Midwest in September cut its overall service by 40%, including major flight reductions from Mitchell.

Ok .. Let's get this straight .. a NEW RECORD NUMBER of people wanted to fly out of Milwaukee last year. 

What's the #1 thing you want as a business?  The DEMAND for your product to go up. 

Guess what, Midwest Express?  Demand for your product is the highest it's EVER been!  What did you do in light of this?  Cut supply by 40%!???

I never understood the drastic cutbacks by all the airlines in 2008.  In light of the fact that air travel demand continues to grow, instead of raising prices like a normal business, they laid off workers and cut back supply.  Makes no sense.  Now jet fuel prices have returned to sane levels, but the infrastructure has been reduced.  Crazy.

Now .. whether Mitchell Airport will set a traffic record in 2009 with this economy is doubtful .. but one factor will be that with far fewer Midwest flights, I'll bet more people go down to O'Hare and fly out from there.

Just plain daffy.

Anecdotally .. my family and I are making our annual trip to Sanibel later this winter.   I had to choose between Air Tran and Midwest Express. 

The result .. Air Tran: $640 for 3 people .. Midwest : $1,100.   I love Midwest, but I can't blow $460 more just for loyalty's sake.  -- Why is Midwest Express higher?  I think it's because their aircraft are smaller, and thus, fill up quicker.  They had about 8 seats left on the flights we needed, whereas Air Tran had 15-20, so had cheaper seats to offer.

So what did Air Tran do when Midwest reduced its capacity?  Air Tran increased theirs, to take advantage, and are now reaping the benefits.  Sad!


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