This is not quite a crowdfunding play for an upstart airline, but it is close. Midwest Express continues it comeback run and consumers can help thanks to a new online shop the company set up. It is unlikely the margins on logoed golf balls and pint glasses will help close the gap on the $6-8 million dollars the company is seeking to raise for its next funding round, but at least there’s a guarantee that shoppers will get something for the spend.
Today, we are excited to be taking initial steps to bring Midwest Express Airlines back! Led by Greg Aretakis, aviation industry expert and former VP at Midwest Express, Midwest Airlines Inc. consists of a group of passionate supporters committed to bringing back our hometown airline. Our goal is to fund this airline locally, which will ensure a long-term commitment to growing and keeping this service in Milwaukee.
We thank our fellow Midwest Express supporters and are offering up “ME” apparel and other logo items to help raise awareness and excitement as we begin ramping up.
Your support is appreciated and we hope to be breaking a cookie together with you soon!
Midwest Express and then Midwest Airlines operated from Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport until a decade ago. The carrier was renown for more spacious seating and warm chocolate-chip cookies baked on board. It also offered an impressive route network given its relatively small size.
After selling out to hedge fund TPG Capital and Northwest Airlines in 2007 the Midwest brand was sold again in 2009, to Republic Airways for just 9% of the prior transaction price. The Midwest operating certificate lapsed in late 2009 and the brand disappeared shortly thereafter, with operations rolled into the Frontier brand.
This latest effort to revive the Midwest Express branding is driven by a former employee, with hopes of returning a commercial airline hub operation to Milwaukee. Details are scarce on what the route network might look like, what aircraft are being considered (a CRJ-200 was used in some 2017 website work) or when there might be a chance of even getting to some of those decision points. The company did successfully raise sufficient funding to lease an office near the airport and begin the other work required.
The story of the Midwest Express revival has several parallels to the similar efforts from Eastern and PeoplExpress in the past decade. Neither went anywhere close to plan, though the Eastern name is still floating around, having been bought and repurposed.
There was also the short-lived concept of Avatar Airlines that sought to raise funds from a variety of channels, including letting pilots buy a guaranteed position for an early $5,000 “investment” in the company.
The shop is being coordinated and run by a 3rd party that focuses on promotional materials so the efforts and expense for the new carrier are roughly nil. In that context it creates good brand awareness and might nudge some investors towards thinking about opening up their wallets. But that’s a pretty far stretch.