Midway Airlines (1979-1991)

Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15, N1065T, is shown at New York’s LaGuardia Airport in April 1981.
(Photo credit: AirNikon)

Midway Airlines began operations on October 31, 1979. The airline’s initial fleet was comprised of three former Trans World Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9 aircraft (one Series 14 and two Series 15.)

Midway’s initial flight schedule consisted of five weekday roundtrip flights from Chicago’s Midway Airport to both Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport and Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport and four weekday roundtrips flights between Chicago and Kansas City. Frequencies were reduced on the weekends.

According to the November 15, 1979 Official Airline Guide, the only other airline serving Midway Airport during this time was Delta Air Lines which operated two daily roundtrip flights to Saint Louis with McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 aircraft.

Photo source: “Midway Observer” (November 1989)

1979 Year-End Results

Midway ended 1979 with three aircraft, four destinations and fewer than 200 employees.

The airline had incurred a net loss of $1,369,000 for the year.

54,210 passengers had been carried in its first two months of operations with a load factor of 40.3%.

“Passenger Service Agents and Reservations Agents pose for a photograph during a break from a training class in which they received instruction in the standard ticket forms Midway adopted that year (1980).”
Photo source: “Midway Observer” (November 1989)
Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15, N1062T, is shown at Long Beach in June 1980.
(Photo credit: AirNikon)

By July 15, 1980, Midway’s fleet had grown to five DC-9 aircraft and the airline had added Saint Louis and Washington’s National Airport to its route system.

Operations in Cleveland had been moved from Burke Lakefront Airport to Hopkins International Airport on May 1.

Weekday departures from Midway Airport totaled 21.

Midway Airlines October 26, 1980 timetable
Midway inaugurated service to New York’s LaGuardia Airport on October 30, 1980.
Photo source: “Midway Observer” (November 1989)

1980 Year-End Results
Employees: 400
Fleet Size: 8
Passengers Carried: 464,521
Load Factor: 50.0%
Net Loss: ($4,924,000)

The tail of Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15, N1065T, is shown at New York’s LaGuardia Airport in April 1981.
( Photo credit: AirNikon )

Midway’s May 14, 1981 timetable shows recently added service to Omaha, Philadelphia and Saint Louis.

At this time, Midway was operating 28 weekday flights from its Midway Airport hub.

Weekday departures from Chicago consisted of:

  • Cleveland (3 flights)
  • Detroit Metro (4 flights)
  • Kansas City (4 flights)
  • New York LaGuardia (5 flights)
  • Omaha (2 flights)
  • Philadelphia (3 flights)
  • Saint Louis (3 flights)
  • Washington National (4 flight)
Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15, N1070, is shown at Washington’s National Airport in July 1981.
(Photo credit: Frank C. Duarte, Jr.)
In 1981, Midway acquired its first stretched McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 aircraft. One example of the type, N932ML, is shown at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on December 28, 1981.
(Photo credit: Howard Chaloner)
Midway Airlines 1981 ticket jacket

1981 Year-End Results
Employees: 626
Fleet Size: 13
Passengers Carried: 885,739
Load Factor: 59.1%
Net Income: $7,550,000

Midway’s February 1, 1982 route map shows the additions of Boston, Columbus, Minneapolis/Saint Paul and Tampa.

Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31, N932ML, is shown at Tampa International Airport in March 1982.
(Photo credit: Ellis M. Chernoff)

Midway’s June 1, 1982 route map shows the additions of Dallas/Fort Worth, Lincoln, Orlando and Topeka to the route system.

Midway’s Boston service, which began on September 16, 1981, had been quickly discontinued on February 4, 1982. Midway would return to Boston in 1988.

The 1982 route expansions are discussed in Midway’s 1982 Annual Report:

“Despite the constraints on our growth (due to the air traffic controllers’ strike and subsequent Federal Aviation Administration restrictions), Midway was able to begin service to five new cities during this year. Service between Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, began in January 1982. Thereafter, in response to difficulties involved in obtaining additional operating authority in the Chicago area, Midway added Topeka and Lincoln as expansions of its Kansas City and Omaha service, respectively. Similarly, in June, we linked a new Orlando service to existing Chicago-Tampa flights.

In May, the bankruptcy of Braniff International offered an opportunity for obtaining operating rights from Chicago to Dallas/Fort Worth. Management promptly sought and received such rights and the Dallas market has proven to be an important addition to the Midway system”

Photo source: “Midway Observer” (November 1989)
Photo source: Midway Airlines 1982 Annual Report
Photo source: Midway Airlines 1982 Annual Report

1982 Year-End Results
Employees: 907
Fleet size: 16 (Nine DC-9-15, seven DC-9-30)
Passengers Carried: 1,098,337
Load Factor: 54.4%
Net Income: $346,000

1983 Midway Airlines ticket jacket

Midway’s April 24, 1983 timetable shows service to Tampa and Orlando had been discontinued.

Midway was now operating 45 weekday departures from its Chicago hub.

Weekday departures from Midway Airport now consisted of:

  • Cleveland (4 flights)
  • Columbus (3 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (4 flight)
  • Detroit Metro (5 flights)
  • Kansas City (4 flights)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (6 flights)
  • New York LaGuardia (5 flights)
  • Omaha (2 flights)
  • Philadelphia (3 flights)
  • Saint Louis (4 flights)
  • Washington National (5 flight)

In June 1983, Midway introduced its new Midway Metrolink service. The service, targeted to the frequent business traveler who could not fly first class because of corporate policy requiring travel at coach fares or because of personal choice, offered one-class upgraded service featuring extra-wide, two-across seating and enhanced inflight meals.

The service, which began on June 30, 1983, was first offered on Midway’s route between Chicago and New York LaGuardia.

In the following months, the service would be expanded to additional markets.

With the new Metrolink service also came new employee uniforms and a new livery for the aircraft operating the service.

Photo source: “Midway Observer” (November 1989)
Photo source: “Midway Observer” (November 1989)
Photo source: “Midway Observer” (November 1989)
Midway Metrolink McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31, N933ML, is shown at Saint Louis in 1983
Photo credit: AirNikon

Midway’s July 1, 1983 timetable was the first timetable to promote the new Midway Metrolink service.

Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31, N937ML, is shown at Minneapolis/Saint Paul in July 1983 wearing the original Midway Airlines “Rainbow” livery.

(Photo credit: AirNikon)
Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15, N1069T, is shown at Cleveland on August 15, 1983 wearing Midway’s updated livery.

(Photo credit: Eduard Marmet)
Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15, N1070T, is shown arriving at Detroit on August 16, 1983 wearing the airline’s original “Rainbow” colors.

(Photo credit: Eduard Marmet)
Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15, N1065T, is shown at Chicago’s Midway Airport on August 17, 1983 wearing Midway’s updated livery.

(Photo credit: Eduard Marmet)

Midway’s September 12, 1983 timetable shows that service to Columbus, Lincoln and Omaha had been discontinued. (Omaha would return to the system in 1987 and Columbus would return in 1989.)

Newark joined the route system with four weekday roundtrips from Chicago and reduced frequency on the weekend.

Initial Newark flight schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveFrequency
MDWEWRML 3928:45am11:40amx7
MDWEWRML 39411:45am2:40pmDaily
MDWEWRML 3884:35pm7:30pmDaily
MDWEWRML 3987:45pm10:40pmx6
EWRMDWML 3997:00am7:59amx7
EWRMDWML 39312:30p1:30pmDaily
EWRMDWML 3955:15pm6:15pmDaily
EWRMDWML 3838:00pm8:59pmx6

Weekday departures from Chicago remained at 45.

  • Cleveland (4 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (4 flights)
  • Detroit Metro (6 flights)
  • Kansas City (4 flights)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (6 flights)
  • New York LaGuardia (5 flights)
  • Newark (4 flights)
  • Philadelphia (3 flights)
  • Saint Louis (4 flights)
  • Washington National (5 flights)

Midway’s December 1, 1983 timetable featured an advertisement for the airline’s recently-acquired McDonnell Douglas DC-9 Super 80 aircraft.

Midway acquired the two used DC-9-81 aircraft in September 1983.

In this timetable, Midway was operating the aircraft type on five roundtrips between Chicago and Minneapolis/Saint Paul and a single roundtrip between both Chicago and Saint Louis and Chicago and Washington National.

The two aircraft would remain in Midway’s fleet until May 1985.

1983 Midway Airlines ticket jacket

1983 Year-End Results
Employees: 1,089
Fleet Size: 19 (Nine DC-9-15, eight DC-9-30, two MD-80)
Passengers Carried: 1,197,217
Load Factor: 48.4%
Net Loss: ($15,015,000)

Midway’s March 4, 1984 timetable indicates that service to Saint Louis had been discontinued.

Midway Airlines April 15, 1984 timetable

The cover of Midway’s June 1, 1984 timetable announces that “Midway Airlines is now Midway Metrolink, systemwide. Now enjoy more comfortable seats, excellent service, and low fares. To every city. Every flight. Every day.” This, however, would be short-lived.

By this time Midway was operating 56 weekday departures from its Chicago hub.

Weekday departures from Midway Airport now consisted of:

  • Cleveland (6 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (5 flights)
  • Detroit Metro (8 flights)
  • Kansas City (5 flights)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (9 flights)
  • New York LaGuardia (8 flights)
  • Newark (5 flights)
  • Philadelphia (5 flights)
  • Washington National (5 flights)

Midway Airlines July 1, 1984 timetable

On July 3, 1984, Miami-based Air Florida filed for bankruptcy protection and suspended operations.

On September 17, Midway Airlines entered into a series of agreements with Air Florida to purchase virtually all of the company’s assets.

On October 15, Air Florida resumed operations under the name Midway Express.

The new Midway Express operation would focus predominantly on linking cities in the Midwestern United States with leisure markets in Florida and the Caribbean.

Air Florida would continue to operated the Midway Express routes until July 1985 when the asset sale was completed.

Midway Express Boeing 737-2T4, N51AF, is shown at Miami in November 27, 1984.
(Photo credit: Gerard Helmer)

Midway’s October 15, 1984 timetable includes new Midway Express service to Miami, Orlando, Saint Croix, Saint Thomas, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

Midway’s weekday departures from Chicago now numbered 66.

Weekday departures from Midway Airport now consisted of:

  • Cleveland (6 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (5 flights)
  • Detroit Metro (9 flights)
  • Kansas City (5 flights)
  • Miami (2 flights)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (9 flights)
  • New York LaGuardia (10 flights)
  • Newark (6 flights)
  • Orlando (1 flight)
  • Philadelphia (6 flights)
  • Tampa (1 flight)
  • Washington National (6 flights)

The route map in Midway’ November 10, 1984 timetable shows the addition of the new Midway Express service.

It also includes new service from Chicago to White Plains which began on November 12, 1984.

Midway’s initial service to White Plains consisted of four weekday roundtrips from Chicago with reduced schedules on weekends.

Initial White Plains flight schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveFrequency
MDWHPNML 1867:00am10:00amX7
MDWHPNML 1841:40pm4:40pmX6
MDWHPNML 1904:30pm7:30pmX6
MDWHPNML 1826:50pm9:50pmX6
HPNMDWML 1897:30am8:40amX7
HPNMDWML 18510:30am11:40amX7
HPNMDWML 1875:00pm6:10pmX6
HPNMDWML 1917:50pm9:00pmX6
Midway Airlines December 15, 1984 timetable

1984 Year-End Results:
Employees: 2,084
Fleet Size: 26 (nine DC-9-15, eleven DC-9-30, two MD-80, four Boeing 737-200)
Passengers Carried: 1,387,978
Load Factor: 50.2%
Net Loss: ($21,967,000)

Midway’s March 1, 1985 timetable shows that service to Newark has been discontinued while Cincinnati and Fort Lauderdale have been added to the route system.

Additionally, the White Plains route had been switched from Midway Airport to Washington National Airport.

Midway was now operating 62 weekday departures from Chicago.

Weekday departures from Midway Airport now consisted of:

  • Cincinnati (2 flights)
  • Cleveland (6 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (4 flights)
  • Detroit Metro (7 flights)
  • Kansas City (5 flights)
  • Miami (2 flights)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (9 flights)
  • New York LaGauardia (10 flights)
  • Orlando (2 flights)
  • Philadelphia (5 flights)
  • Tampa (2 flights)
  • Washington National (7 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (1 flight)

Midway’s June 5, 1985 shows the resumption of service to Boston. Midway returned to Boston with three weekday flights from Chicago to Boston via Cleveland and two daily flights on the weekends.

Service to Topeka had been discontinued.

Midway Airlines July 1, 1985 timetable

Midway’s July 1, 1985 timetable would be the final timetable featuring the the dual Midway Metrolink/Midway Express operation.

From Midway’s 1985 Annual Report:

“Prior to the Air Florida asset purchase, our Florida and Caribbean services were operated by Air Florida, Inc. under Bankruptcy Court supervision and pursuant to interim financing agreements with Midway. Upon completion of the asset acquisition the Company began integrating these operations with the balance of the system. The most notable, immediate effect of the asset purchase was the elimination of the ‘Midway Metrolink’ and ‘Midway Express’ tradename dichotomy which caused confusion in the travel industry and impaired the Company’s marketing efforts. By the end of the third quarter, the Company’s integrated marketing plans were complete and October saw the unveiling of a new image and a return to the unified ‘Midway Airlines’ tradename.”

With the elimination of the “Midway Metrolink” service, all of Midway’s DC-9 aircraft were reverted back to standard five-across seating.

Midway’s October 15, 1985 timetable introduced new service to New Orleans. The new service consisted of three nonstops flights between Chicago and New Orleans on weekdays (operated by DC-9-30 aircraft) and two daily nonstops on weekends.

Initial New Orleans flight schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveEquip.Freq.
MDWMSYML 3428:37am10:40amD9Sx7
MDWMSYML 34612:00pm2:03pmD9SDaily
MDWMSYML 3407:05pm9:08pmD9Sx6
MSYMDWML 3418:00am10:06amD9Sx7
MSYMDWML 34611:20am1:25pmD9SDaily
MSYMDWML 3494:25pm6:31pmD9Sx6

Midway’s October 27, 1985 timetable introduced Midway’s new corporate look and aircraft livery.

Midway’s December 15, 1985 timetable introduced new service to Fort Myers and Indianapolis.

Service to Fort Myers began with one daily nonstop roundtrip flight from Chicago.

Indianapolis service was operated once daily as an en route stop on a roundtrip flight between Chicago and Tampa.

Midway was now operating 65 weekday departures from its Chicago hub.

Weekday departures from Midway Airport now consisted of:

  • Cleveland (6 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (4 flights)
  • Detroit Metro (8 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (2 flights)
  • Fort Myers (1 flight)
  • Indianapolis (1 flight)
  • Kansas City (5 flights)
  • Miami (2 flights)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (9 flights)
  • New Orleans (3 flights)
  • New York LaGuardia (8 flights)
  • Orlando (2 flights)
  • Philadelphia (5 flights)
  • Tampa (2 flights)
  • Washington National (6 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (1 flight)

Midway Airlines 1985 Annual Report

Photo source: Midway Airlines 1985 Annual Report
Photo source: Midway Airlines 1985 Annual Report
Photo source: Midway Airlines 1985 Annual Report
Photo source: Midway Airlines 1985 Annual Report
Photo source: Midway Airlines 1985 Annual Report
Photo source: Midway Airlines 1985 Annual Report
Photo source: Midway Airlines 1985 Annual Report
Photo source: “Midway Observer” (November 1989)

1985 Year-End Results
Employees: 1,947
Fleet Size: 27 (nine DC-9-15, eight DC-9-31, three DC-9-32, seven Boeing 737-200)
Passengers Carried: 1,748,942
Load Factor: 58.2%
Net Loss: ($3,646,000)

Midway Airlines February 15, 1986 timetable

(Photo credit: Chris E. Novak)

Midway’s April 27, 1986 timetable introduced Iowa Airways as the first Midway Connection carrier. Iowa Airways operated four roundtrip flights between Chicago and Dubuque using 16-seat Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante aircraft.

(Photo credit: Dave Campbell)

Midway’s June 1, 1986 timetable introduced Chicago Air as the second Midway Connection carrier.

Chicago Air began operations in May 1986 operating a fleet of six Fokker F-27-500 aircraft leased from Midstate Airlines.

Chicago Air provided connections from Midway Airport to Green Bay, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Madison, Moline, Peoria, Traverse City and Wausau.

Chicago Air operated 30 weekday departures from Midway with a reduced weekend schedule.

Midway was operating 67 weekday jet departures from Chicago at this time.

Midway’s weekday jet departures from Chicago now consisted of:

  • Cleveland (6 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (4 flights)
  • Detroit Metro (8 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (2 flights)
  • Fort Myers (1 flight)
  • Indianapolis (1 flight)
  • Kansas City (6 flights)
  • Miami (2 flights)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (9 flights)
  • New Orleans (3 flights)
  • New York LaGuardia (8 flights)
  • Orlando (2 flights)
  • Philadelphia (6 flights)
  • Tampa (2 flights)
  • Washington National (6 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (1 flight)

Midway’s July 1, 1986 timetable shows the addition of Las Vegas to the route system with one daily roundtrip from Chicago operated with Boeing 737-200 aircraft.

Initial Las Vegas flight schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveEquip.Freq.
MDWLASML 7119:00am10:45am73SDaily
LASMDWML 54311:15am4:45pm73SDaily

Midway’s August 1, 1986 timetable shows Midway had discontinued service to White Plains.

Chicago Air had added Springfield, Illinois to its network of Midway Connection destinations.

Midway Airlines October 1, 1986 timetable and Midway Airport diagram

Midway Airlines October 26, 1986 timetable

Midway Airlines 1986 Annual Report
Photo source: Midway Airlines 1986 Annual Report
Photo source: Midway Airlines 1986 Annual Report
Photo source: Midway Airlines 1986 Annual Report

1986 Year-End Results:
Employees: 2,489
Fleet Size: 29 (Twenty DC-9 and nine Boeing 737-200)
Passengers Carried: 2,719,269
Load Factor: 58.9%
Net Income: $9,031,000

Midway’s January 5, 1987 timetable included the airline’s new service to Denver. Denver was initially served three times daily from Chicago with Boeing 737-200 aircraft.

Initial Denver flight schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveEquip.Freq.
MDWDENML 7888:30am10:00am73SDaily
MDWDENML 7462:00p3:30pm73SDaily
MDWDENML 7487:30pm9:00pm73SDaily
DENMDWML 7337:00am1008am73SDaily
DENMDWML 78911:45am2:53pm73SDaily
DENMDWML 7855:00pm8:08pm73SDaily

Service to Cincinnati, which had consisted of only one daily roundtrip flight to Tampa for over a year, had been discontinued.

This timetable also included Midstate Airlines as a new Midway Connection carrier. Midstate operated the 19-passenger Fairchild Metro III aircraft on the Midway Connection routes.

Midway Connection service had been expanded to include Grand Rapids, Indianapolis and Milwaukee.

Photo credit: AirNikon

Midway Airlines was now operating 74 weekday departures from Chicago with Midway Connection operating an additional 39 weekday departures.

Midway’s weekday jet departures from Chicago now consisted of:

  • Cleveland (6 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (4 flights)
  • Denver (3 flights)
  • Detroit Metro (8 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (2 flights)
  • Fort Myers (1 flight)
  • Indianapolis (1 flight)
  • Kansas City (6 flights)
  • Las Vegas (3 flights)
  • Miami (2 flights)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (9 flights)
  • New Orleans (3 flights)
  • New York LaGuardia (8 flights)
  • Orlando (2 flights)
  • Philadelphia (6 flights)
  • Tampa (2 flights)
  • Washington National (7 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (1 flight)
Photo source: “Midway Observer” (November 1989)

Midway’s April 5, 1987 timetable included the airline’s new service to Atlanta. Midway’s initial Atlanta schedule consisted of three weekday roundtrip flights from Chicago (two DC-9-15 flights and one DC-9-30). The airline operated two daily roundtrip flights on weekends.

Initial Atlanta flight schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveEquip.Freq.
MDWATLML 1868:40am11:20amDC97
MDWATLML 1021:20pm4:00pmDC9x6
MDWATLML 1441:20pm4:00pmDC96
MDWATLML 3807:00pm9:40pmD9Sx6
ATLMDWML 3457:00am7:40amD9Sx7
ATLMDWML 10512:05pm12:50pmDC9Daily
ATLMDWML 1034:40pm5:25pmDC9x6

Midway’s June 1, 1987 timetable marked the airline’s return to Omaha which had been discontinued in 1983. Midway’s initial Omaha schedule consisted of four roundtrip flights from Chicago on weekdays (two DC-9-15 flights and two DC-9-30 flights) and three flights daily on weekends.

Initial Omaha flight schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveEquip.Freq.
MDWOMAML 3758:30am9:45amD9Sx7
MDWOMAML 18112:00pm1:15pmDC9x6
MDWOMAML 38112:00pm1:15pmD9S6
MDWOMAML 3172:45pm4:00pmD9SDaily
MDWOMAML 1836:55pm8:10pmDC9x6
OMAMDWML 1566:50am8:00amDC9x7
OMAMDWML 39810:20am11:30amD9SDaily
OMAMDWML 1201:30pm2:45pmDC9x6
OMAMDWML 3201:30pm2:45pmD9S6
OMAMDWML 3964:25pm5:35pmD9Sx6

Midway was now operating 81 weekday departures from its Chicago hub with an additional 42 departures from Chicago being operated by the Midway Connection carriers.

Midway’s weekday jet departures from Chicago now consisted of:

  • Atlanta (3 flights)
  • Cleveland (6 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (4 flights)
  • Denver (3 flights)
  • Detroit Metro (8 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (2 flights)
  • Fort Myers (1 flight)
  • Indianapolis (1 flight)
  • Kansas City (6 flights)
  • Las Vegas (3 flights)
  • Miami (2 flights)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (9 flights)
  • New Orleans (3 flights)
  • New York LaGuardia (8 flights)
  • Omaha (4 flights)
  • Orlando (2 flights)
  • Philadelphia (6 flights)
  • Tampa (2 flights)
  • Washington National (7 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (1 flight)

In May 1987, Midway acquired Galion, Ohio-based Fischer Brothers Aviation with the intention of making it the primary provider of Midway Connection service.

Per a May 28, 1987 AP News article:

“CHICAGO (AP) _ Midway Airlines says it has bought all the capital stock of Fischer Brothers Aviation Inc., a Galion, Ohio-based commuter airline.

David R. Hinson, chairman and chief executive officer of Midway, made the announcement Wednesday in a statement which did not disclose the purchase price.

Hinson said Fischer Brothers would ‘provide a valuable contribution to Midway’s establishment of a high-class, reliable commuter airline service at Midway Airport.’

The commuter service, to be operated under the Midway Airlines banner, will be headed by Richard E. Pfennig, president of Midway’s new subsidiary. The company’s base of operations will be at the Capital Airport in Springfield, Ill., where the principal flight and maintenance functions will be conducted. Officials expect the new Midway Airlines commuter service to begin on a phased basis in mid-June, the statement said, adding that the specific cities to be served and schedules would be announced later.”

Fischer Brothers Aviation would take over as the primary Midway Connection carrier operating Dornier 228 aircraft later in 1987.

Midway’s June 1, 1987 timetable includes the airline’s new service to Des Moines. Initial Des Moines service consisted of four roundtrip flights from Chicago on weekdays (two DC-9-15 flights and two DC-9-30 flights) and three flights daily on weekends.

Initial Des Moines flight schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveEquip.Freq.
MDWDSMML 1858:35am9:31amDC9x7
MDWDSMML 30912:00pm12:56pmD9Sx7
MDWDSMML 34312:00pm12:56pmD9S7
MDWDSMML 1653:20pm4:16pmDC96
MDWDSMML 3653:20pm4:16pmD9Sx6
MDWDSMML 1797:45pm8:41pmDC9x6
DSMMDWML 1926:55am&:55amDC9x7
DSMMDWML 14210:00am11:00amDC9Daily
DSMMDWML 3081:25pm2:25pmD9SDaily
DSMMDWML 3844:35pm5:35pmD9Sx6

Midway’s June 15, 1987 timetable introduces the airline’s new service to Phoenix. Midway launched service to Phoenix with two daily 737-200 flights from Chicago.

Initial Phoenix flight schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveEquip.Freq.
MDWPHXML 7318:25am9:55am73SDaily
MDWPHXML 7713:45pm5:15pm73SDaily
PHXMDWML 73011:15am4:30pm73SDaily
PHXMDWML 7705:45pm11:00pm73SDaily

By August 15, 1987, Chicago Air and Midstate Airlines were no longer operating as Midway Connection carriers.

Fischer Brothers Aviation, operating Dornier 228 aircraft, was now the primary operator of Midway Connection flights with service from Chicago to Champaign/Urbana, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Madison, Peoria, Springfield (IL) and Traverse City.

Iowa Airways also continued operating Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirantes to Dubuque and Waterloo as Midway Connection.

Photo credit: Gary C. Orlando
Photo source: “Midway Observer” (November 1989)

Midway’s October 1, 1987 timetable shows the elimination of nonstop flights between Orlando and both Cleveland and Detroit.

Midway Connection’s route system had expanded to include Benton Harbor and Elkhart. Bloomington (IL) would be added to the route system on October 15.

Midway’s December 18, 1987 timetable shows the airline had returned to Columbus, Ohio. Initial service consisted of four daily roundtrip flights from Chicago on weekdays (three DC-9-15 flights and one DC-9-30 flight) and three flights on weekends.

Initial Columbus flight schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveEquip.Freq.
MDWCMHML 1348:33am10:33amDC9x7
MDWCMHML 14611:50am1:50pmDC9Daily
MDWCMHML 1284:00pm6:00pmDC9Daily
MDWCMHML 3907:30pm9:30pmD9Sx6
CMHMDWML 3097:55am8:00amD9Sx7
CMHMDWML 12110:58am11:03amDC9Daily
CMHMDWML 1232:15pm2:20pmDC9Daily
CMHMDWML 1116:25pm6:30pmDC9x6

Midway Connection service had been expanded to include Muskegon and South Bend as well as a resumption of service to Indianapolis.

Midway was now operating 103 weekday jet flights from Chicago with an additional 62 departures operated by Midway Connection.

Daily jet departures from Midway Airports now consisted of:

  • Atlanta (4 flights)
  • Cleveland (7 flights)
  • Columbus (4 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (4 flights)
  • Denver (3 flights)
  • Des Moines (4 flights)
  • Detroit Metro (12 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (2 flights)
  • Fort Myers (2 flights)
  • Indianapolis (1 flight)
  • Kansas City (6 flights)
  • Las Vegas (3 flights)
  • Miami (2 flights)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (11 flights)
  • New Orleans (3 flights)
  • New York LaGuardia (8 flights)
  • Omaha (4 flights)
  • Orlando (3 flights)
  • Philadelphia (3 flights)
  • Phoenix (2 flights)
  • Tampa (3 flights)
  • Washington National (7 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (1 flights)

1987 Year-End Results
Employees: 3,428
Fleet Size: 39 jet aircraft (nine DC-9-15, eighteen DC-9-30 and 12 Boeing 737-200) and 10 Dornier 228s operated by Midway Commuter
Passengers Carried: 5,751,834
Load Factor: 57.4%
Net Income: $18,847,000

Midway launched service to Nassau on January 8, 1988. The daily roundtrip flight from Chicago was operated with a Boeing 737-200 aircraft that stopped in Fort Lauderdale in each direction.

Midway’s March 1, 1988 timetable includes the airline’s new service to Pittsburgh. Midway operated five roundtrip flights between Chicago and Pittsburgh each weekday and four flights on weekends.

Initial Pittsburgh flight schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveFrequency
MDWPITML 2367:08am9:23amx7
MDWPITML 2449:30am11:45amDaily
MDWPITML 238 12:40pm2:55pmDaily
MDWPITML 1242:45pm6:00pmDaily
MDWPITML 2406:50pm9:05pmx6
PITMDWML 3457:37am7:57amx7
PITMDWML 2319:50am10:10amDaily
PITMDWML 24112:15pm12:35pmDaily
PITMDWML 2393:20pm3:40pmDaily
PITMDWML 1436:30pm6:50pmx6

Midway’s April 3, 1988 timetable shows the resumption of nonstop flights between Chicago and Boston. For nearly three years, the service had operated via Cleveland.

Midway had also switched all flights between Chicago and Indianapolis to jet aircraft and discontinued nonstop service between Indianapolis and Tampa.

With the elimination of the Cleveland-Boston and Indianapolis-Tampa routes, Midway had now discontinued all point-to-point flying. All routes, other than its routes between Florida and the Caribbean, were now operated exclusively to and from the Chicago hub.

Midway Connection service had expanded to Fort Wayne, Lansing and Moline.

Midway’s June 1, 1988 timetable shows expanded Midway Connection service to Rockford effective July 5.

Midway’s August 15, 1988 timetable includes new service to Jacksonville, Memphis and Sarasota.

Midway Connection service had expanded to include Lafayette (IN) with Milwaukee service beginning September 5.

Initial Jacksonville schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveFrequency
MDWJAXML 77810:50am2:10pmDaily
MDWJAXML 7866:50pm10:20pmDaily
JAXMDWML 7717:17am8:35amDaily
JAXMDWML 7792:40pm4:00pmDaily

Initial Memphis schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveFrequency
MDWMEMML 2908:40am10:00amx7
MDWMEMML 7802:35pm3:55pmDaily
MDWMEMML 2926:50m8:10pmx6
MEMMDWML 2936:30am7:55amx7
MEMMDWML 29510:30am11:55amDaily
MEMMDWML 2994:25pm5:50pmx6

Initial Sarasota flight schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveFrequency
MDWSRQML 79810:05am1:45pmDaily
SRQMDWML 7912:15pm3:55pmDaily

Midway’s December 17, 1988 timetable includes Midways new service to Saint Petersburg. The airline operated one daily roundtrip flight from Chicago. This service was short-lived and discontinued only several months later.

Initial Saint Petersburg flight schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveFrequency
MDWPIEML 6109:55am1:25pmDaily
PIEMDWML 6091:55pm3:25pmDaily


This timetable also shows Indianapolis losing jet flights and being converted solely to Midway Connection service.

By now, Midway was operating 114 weekday jet departures from Chicago with an additional 98 commuter flights being operated by Midway Connection.

Midway’s jet departures from Chicago now consisted of:

  • Atlanta (4 flights)
  • Boston (4 flights)
  • Cleveland (5 flights)
  • Columbus (4 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (5 flights)
  • Denver (3 flights)
  • Des Moines (4 flights)
  • Detroit Metro (10 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (3 flights)
  • Fort Myers (2 flights)
  • Jacksonville (2 flights)
  • Kansas City (6 flights)
  • Las Vegas (3 flights)
  • Memphis (3 flights)
  • Miami (3 flights)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (9 flights)
  • New Orleans (3 flights)
  • New York LaGuardia (8 flights)
  • Omaha (3 flights)
  • Orlando (3 flights)
  • Philadelphia (6 flights)
  • Phoenix (2 flights)
  • Pittsburgh (4 flights)
  • Saint Petersburg (1 flight)
  • Sarasota (1 flight)
  • Tampa (4 flights)
  • Washington National (7 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (1 flight)
Photo source: Midway Airlines 1988 Annual Report

“With its close proximity to downtown Chicago and compact terminal layout, Midway Airport was the choice of 7.2 million air travelers during 1988, with approximately 65 percent selecting Midway Airlines and its Midway Commuter subsidiary.”

Photo source: Midway Airlines 1988 Annual Report

“Midway Airlines and its Midway Commuter subsidiary added 14 new cities in 1988, including three leisure destinations in Florida and Nassau in the Bahamas.”

Photo source: Midway Airlines 1988 Annual Report

“New aircraft commitments and options position Midway Airlines to meet the challenges of the next decade.”

Photo source: Midway Airlines 1988 Annual Report

“In addition to providing service to 19 short-haul commuter markets, the Midway Connection gave approximately 325,000 passengers access to Midway Airlines’ longer-haul jet services at Midway Airport in 1988.”

1988 Year-End Results
Employees: 3,969
Fleet Size: 42 jet aircraft (nine DC-9-15, 20 DC-9-30 and 13 Boeing 737-200) and 19 Dornier 228s operated by Midway Commuter
Passengers Carried: 4,600,581
Load Factor: 55.9%
Net Income: $6,545,000


Midway’s January 31, 1989 timetable includes Midway Connection’s new service to Madison and Oshkosh.

The timetable also includes an advertisement for an upcoming agreement with Canadian Airlines International that would provide for connections between the two carriers at Midway Airport. The new agreement would be effective March 6.

Midway took delivery of its first McDonnell Douglas MD-87 aircraft, N801ML, in March 1989. Midway would ultimately add eight of the type to its fleet.

Midway’s first McDonnell Douglas MD-87 aircraft, N801ML, is shown above at a dedication ceremony on March 30, 1989.

Photo source: “Midway Observer” (November 1989)
Midway’s first McDonnell Douglas MD-87, N801ML, is shown arriving at Los Angeles.

Photo credit: Frank C. Duarte, Jr.

Midway’s May 1, 1989 timetable introduces the airlines new service to Los Angeles. Three daily roundtrips from Chicago were operated with Midway’s new McDonnell Douglas MD-87 aircraft.

Initial Los Angeles schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveEquip.Freq.
MDWLAXML 9208:45am11:10amM87Daily
MDWLAXML 93212:30pm2:55pmM87Daily
MDWLAXML 9287:30pm9:55pmM87Daily
LAXMDWML 92112:05am6:05amM87Daily
LAXMDWML 92512:30pm6:30pmM87Daily
LAXMDWML 9273:55pm9:35pmM87Daily

Additionally, service to Saint Petersburg had been discontinued and would not resume.

Midway Connection, meanwhile, had expanded is route system to include Flint.

Midway was now operating 115 weekday departures from Chicago with Midway Connection providing an additional 103 departures.

Eastern to Sell Operations In Philadelphia to Midway

(June 17, 1989) “Midway Airlines, one of the few start-up carriers to survive the competitive pressures of deregulation, bolstered its position yesterday by agreeing to pay $206.5 million for Eastern Airlines’ Philadelphia gates, landing rights and Canadian routes.

The deal includes 16 airplanes, as well as landing rights at La Guardia Airport and National Airport near Washington. The deal was completed after intense negotiations that lasted most of the night. It was disclosed by Bruce Zirinsky, an attorney representing Eastern in proceedings in Federal Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.

Eastern, which is owned by the Texas Air Corporation, filed for bankruptcy protection on March 9, five days after its machinists went on strike. Eastern’s pilots have refused to cross the picket lines, forcing Eastern to cancel most flights.

If the court goes along, Midway, an airline that began in 1978, will have scored a coup over USAir Group Inc., which had previously agreed to pay $85 million for most of Eastern’s Philadelphia operations. That deal did not include so many of Eastern’s other assets.

Midway, which has a hub at Midway Airport in Chicago and has become profitable after some tough years, said it would build a large hub in Philadelphia.

At first, it said, it would use 16 aircraft to provide about 75 flights a day at Philadelphia. The airline said it hoped to build the schedule to 125 flights a day over two years.”

Midway’s July 1, 1989 timetable shows that Milwaukee service, which had previously consisted of five daily roundtrips on Midway Connection, had been upgraded to include Midway Airlines jet service.

Milwaukee service was now operated twice daily with Midway Connection aircraft and three times daily with Midway Airlines jet aircraft.

Midway Airlines August 1, 1989 timetable

Midway Airlines Boeing 737-200 Seating Chart (August 1989)

Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-10/15 Seating Chart (August 1989)

Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 Seating Chart (August 1989)

Midway Airport Fall 1989 Terminal Diagram

Midway Airlines September 1, 1989 timetable

When Carl Crumley, director of airport services – Philadelphia, gives a tour of Midway’s newly acquired facilities at the Philadelphia International Airport, it’s a little like following a proud new home owner. Phrases like “This is going to be red,” “We’re changing this,” and “I really like this part the most” pepper Crumley’s speech as he steps over paint cans and brooms.

Back in Chicago, Lee Reid, a project engineer in Properties and Facilities, gives another tour through the Philadelphia facilities – by way of architect’s and designer’s renderings. Reid’s office is filled with carpet samples and fabric swatches. An unknowing visitor would assume Reid holds exceptionally large meetings – a recent delivery of gate seat samples has drastically increased the seating capacity in Reid’s office.

When the reconstruction is complete, Midway will occupy most of the “C” Concourse and will be the second most predominant carrier at the sprawling, five-concourse, Philadelphia International Airport. USAir, which occupies most of the “B” concourse, will have the most gates – 10 compared to Midway’s initial eight. Occupying the remaining three concourses are a sprinkling of other national carriers.

“Midway’s presence will definitely be felt,” said Reid. “We will be replacing the worn-out Eastern blue with Midway’s bright red, grey and taupe.”

The entire renovation project will include the renovation of eight gates, (Midway purchased a total of 10 gates, but plans to use only eight at this time); 15 ticket counter positions; and three baggage claim areas. Operational areas, including locker rooms, crew lounges and maintenance offices, will also be renovated. The cargo facilities acquired from Eastern are in fair condition and will only require minor clean up.

Plans for replacing the navy blue Eastern facilities in Philadelphia have been on the drawing board since June. Unlike recent Midway construction projects that were completed in record time – the Training Center, for instance – the Philadelphia reconfiguration has been confined to the drawing board pending the closing of Midway’s deal with Eastern.

“We cannot put a hammer to the wall until the deal is closed in early October,” said Crumley. “We will be under construction when we open on November 15.”

The delay in construction could result in a superior design for the facility. Reid has had time to make several trips to Philadelphia, consider many design options and gather opinions from many Midway departments. For example, instead of going with the “bench-like seats” typically found in airport gate areas, Reid is planning to install modern, sleek seating.

“We want to give the new hub a different look,” explained Reid. “So I picked out some interesting seats and had them delivered to headquarters. People have been dropping by and giving an opinion.”

Reid has chosen other unique design elements to brighten up the run-down concourse. A grey carpet with flecks of red will run the length of the concourse. Each gate area will be carpeted in solid grey and will have a red carpet trim. The podiums will be a standard design which the Philadelphia Airport Authority requires throughout the airport. However, Midway’s placement of the podium will differ from the rest of the airport by using the prototype gate design currently found at Midway Airport’s Gate B-9. The design places the podium at one end of the gate allowing both check-in and boarding to take place in the same area. This gate design forces the passenger line in front of the podium to fill up the gate area rather than block the concourse. Additionally, each of he jetways will need to be repaired or replaced, according to Reid.

“The bright new Midway carpet, paint and furniture is going to work wonders for the concourse,” said Reid.

The three baggage claim areas will be painted and Midway logos will be placed on the walls.

The ticket counters won’t be going through major changes. The durable steel counters will remain, although a strip of red carpet will be installed in the front of each ticket counter to break up the “stainless steel kitchen” look, according to Reid. Midway signage and grey carpet will be placed on the back wall.

One area that will not be changed is Eastern’s old Ionosphere Club, which will become another Midway Executive Club. Despite the space-age name, the Ionosphere Club does not have the high-tech look of the newly designed Midway Executive Club at Midway Airport. As a matter of fact, the Executive Club’s understated, grey furniture, computer terminals and conference room are in direct contrast to the Ionosphere Club’s 18th century-style, high-backed, tapestry and leather chairs and sofas, oak tables and delicate antique desks.

Because Midway served the Philadelphia International Airport prior to the purchase of the Eastern facilities, one functioning Midway ticket counter is already located at the airport. Tucked in the same hallway as the Pastimes Ice Cream Parlor and the Half Shell Tavern, the ticket counter is out of the mainstream and difficult to find. Midway will relinquish this space to Eastern when facilities are swapped on November 15.

The refurbishing project will be done in two phases. Phase one, finished by November 15, will be enough to get the facility up and running. Phase two, finished by the beginning of 1990, will complete the project.

“As my real estate agent would say, ‘the Philly hub is a handy-man’s special,'” said Crumley who is currently looking for a house in Philadelphia. “A fixer-upper.”

Photo source: “Midway Observer” (November 1989)

“The ‘new tenant’ in Concourse C of the Philadelphia International Airport gives the area a fresh new look. Pictured is an artists rendition of one portion of the refurbishment which began in preparation for the November 15 hub opening.”

Source: “Midway Observer” (October 1989)

The cover of Midway’s October 1, 1989 timetable announces that new routes from Philadelphia will be starting the following month following Midway’s $206.5 million purchase of Eastern Air Lines’ Philadelphia facilities and related assets.

In Chicago, the airline was now operating 120 weekday jet flights from its Midway Airport hub with an additional 108 weekday departures operated by Midway Connection.

Midway celebrated its tenth anniversary of service October 31, 1989.

Midway’s November 1, 1989 timetable includes schedules for the November 15th opening of the carrier’s new hub at Philadelphia International Airport.

The Philadelphia hub would open with the following routes:

  • Chicago Midway (6 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (2 flights)
  • Fort Myers (1 flight)
  • Miami (2 flights)
  • Orlando (3 flights)
  • Sarasota (1 flight)
  • Tampa (2 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (1 flight)

Flights to Albany, Boston, Buffalo and Hartford would begin on December 1.

At the Chicago hub, service to Madison had been upgraded from being operated entirely by Midway Connection to a combination of Midway Connection and Midway Airlines jet flights.

Madison service, which has previously consisted of five daily roundtrips on Midway Connection, now consisted of three daily Midway Connection flights and two daily Midway Airlines jet flights.

Midway introduced First Class service beginning November 1, 1989.

“Midway’s Service Mettle Put to First Class Test”

(Midway Observer – October 1989) The new eight-seat first class cabins become a showcase next month for the strides Midway Airlines has made in service delivery.

Employees in departments companywide are finalizing details of this new product in preparation for a “trial run” from October 16-31. Revenue first class service begins November 1.

Passenger service agents and reservation agents completed their first class training in September. First class training for flight attendants began in August and will be completed this month.

The program, according to Rick Larsen, director of market planning, was created interdepartmentally. Marketing and Planning developed the economic justification for first class. Then a 20-person task force, representing many departments, convened in December 1988 to plan the product.

After the product was designed, departments evaluated it from the standpoints of cost and the time required for implementation.

Representatives from each department met on a weekly basis to monitor the program. The participation, in addition to Marketing, included Inflight Services, Reservations, Purchasing, Maintenance, Properties and Facilities, Stations and Corporate Communications.

“The initial input from all departments helped us develop what will be perceived as a very strong product,” Larsen said.

While the company gears up internally for this new product, the marketing and sales effort has been launched to create customer awareness of it.

Fares for first class cabin service were announced last month.

First class fares for trips up to 1,250 miles will be $20 more than Midway’s full-coach fares. For trips 1,250 miles or more, first class service will add $40 to a full-coach ticket. Midway’s first class fares will be up to 50 percent less than the industry’s standard first class fares.

Midway employees will be entitled to travel first class for a service charge.

While Midway expects this pricing strategy to attract business travelers who would enjoy getting first class service for the price they pay for coach on most other airlines, there is a more important objective.

“Our real strategy is one that revolves around the FlyersFirst program,” John Tague, vice president of marketing and planning, said at a September 14 press conference.

FlyersFirst members realize an even greater savings on first class tickets, an opportunity that should increase the attractiveness of the frequent-flyer program and generate loyalty to Midway Airlines. Members will be eligible to purchase first class tickets at Midway’s full-coach fares. Members of the Gold and Platinum levels to be introduced in the FlyersFirst program November 1 will be eligible for free upgrades to first class from any published fare, including the lowest-available discount fares.

Despite the attractive pricing position, “We will not use price as a crutch,” Tague said. “Our intent is to have the best first class service in the industry.”

The trial run will assure that Midway puts its best foot forward before any passengers pays for a first class ticket.

The entire product will be in place October 16, and FlyersFirst members and other passengers will be upgraded to first class at no charge through October 31. This dress rehearsal provides Midway the opportunity to convey to passengers the value of the first class product, with the understanding that it is in a transitional phase. Changes may be made based on this trial run.

“The objective is very simple – to shake out any procedural problems, be they on the passenger-service side, catering side or with other aspects of the product,” said Larsen. “When the first revenue passenger walks through the door on November 1, we will deliver the product as it was defined.”

Passengers will be given a comment card on which to record their general impression of flying first class on Midway.

First class flyers in Chicago until now have used the airlines that serve O’Hare International. So the eight seats up front will be filled with an audience new to Midway Airlines, some of the toughest critics in the sky.

“We get one shot at converting the O’Hare first class user to a Midway Airlines first class user. We have to put our best foot forward,” Larsen said.

To prepare to deliver on Midway’s first class promises, flight attendants, passenger service agents and reservations agents not only had to master the product, but to understand the philosophy behind it.

“This is the most demanding customer that they’ll ever have the opportunity to serve,” said Lois Gallo, vice president of passenger service. “We not only have to continue doing what we have done well, we have to do more.”

First class passengers expect as routine what other passengers consider special treatment, Gallo explained. “I want to continue to emphasize that good service goes to all of our customers,” she said. “There is no way of isolating service. Service must feel good throughout in order to please first class passengers.”

While high levels of service are provided to all passengers, several amenities go to first class travelers.

“We view this as a total travel experience, not an inflight experience,” Tague said.

Midway’s first class passengers will be granted upgrades on rental cars and will receive discounts on ground transportation.

As an added value during the launch period of first class, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts will provide complimentary upgrade certificates valid for suite accommodations at Hyatt Hotels on a space-available basis.

Other amenities include: special first class check-in counters, coat-check facilities at Midway Airport and Philadelphia International Airport for first class passengers who want to store their coats before departure to a warm-weather destination and claim them upon return.

Midway is the only airline to provide first class passengers day-of-travel admittance to the airline club lounge.

The reconfiguration of the fleet for first class will be completed in Chicago and other field stations. The first class cabins will be appointed with eight burgundy leather seats. The cabin interiors were designed by Seattle-based SGS Design, Ltd.

Reservations began booking the first class seats last month after the fares were loaded into the Sabre reservations system.

“We realize with the start-up of a new product and going into this market, it’s going to take time for the market to build,” Larsen said.

The company will break even on the product without a significant load factor in first class. And numerous intangible benefits will be reaped from offering the first class product.

Midway’s December 1, 1989 timetable shows that the Philadelphia hub had grown to 33 weekday departures with slightly fewer flights on weekends.

Weekday departures from Philadelphia now consisted of:

  • Albany (3 flights)
  • Boston (6 flights)
  • Buffalo (3 flights)
  • Chicago Midway (6 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (2 flights)
  • Fort Myers (1 flight)
  • Hartford/Springfield (3 flights)
  • Miami (2 flights)
  • Orlando (3 flights)
  • Sarasota/Bradenton (1 flight)
  • Tampa (2 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (1 flight)

Additionally, service from Philadelphia to Rochester would begin on December 15 with three daily roundtrips.

This timetable also included Midway’s new service to Freeport, Bahamas. Midway would operate one daily roundtrip from Chicago to Freeport with an en route stop in Fort Lauderdale in each direction.

“PHL Hub Start-Up, Fuel Costs Result in 1989 Financial Loss

(Midway Observer – March 1990) Midway Airlines growth plans and the financial community’s confidence in the company remain solid despite Midway’s February 20 report of the $20.7 million loss for 1989.

The loss, which followed three consecutive years of profit, was expected because of the investment in the Philadelphia hub. However, surging fuel costs further widened the gap between revenues and expenses in the fourth quarter of the year.

“The company’s financial position at year end reflected sufficient liquidity to meet our commitments scheduled for 1990,” said Alfred S. Altschul, vice president and chief financial officer.

Among those commitments are key elements in the company’s growth plan, such as delivery of the first four of the 29 MD-82s on order.

“During the first 45 days of 1990, Midway Airlines has successfully financed over $70 million worth of assets with new and existing lenders, showing that we still have the confidence of the financial community,” Altschul said.

Midway’s $20.7 million loss compared with the net income of $6.5 million for 1988. Operating revenues for 1989 were $493.5 million, up 20 percent over 1988 revenues. Operating expenses for 1989 were $513.5 million, up 28 percent over 1988 levels.

“The loss for 1989 was disappointing, but the gains recorded in traffic and capacity indicate that we have been able to grow quite rapidly in a short period of time. Traffic has grown in almost a direct relationship to the increase in capacity, resulting in a stable load factor,” Altschul said.

Midway carried 5.2 million passengers in 1989, 12 percent more than in 1988. Midway also reported substantial growth in revenue passenger miles (rpms), advancing 17 percent over 1988 to a total of 3.5 billion. The load factor for 1989 was 56.6 percent, up from 55.9 percent in 1988. Midway traffic gains continued in January 1990 with the highest number of rpms for any month in the airline’s history, amounting to 367.6 million, a 38.9 percent improvement over January 1989.

The company’s loss for 1989 included many one-time costs incurred with the start-up of the Philadelphia hub. Those costs were included as operating expenses for the fourth quarter. The start-up expenses included the initial advertising and promotion expense and the cost of training for the 16 aircraft purchased from Eastern.

“The company made the decision to be financially conservative and absorb the expenses of the start-up now rather than carry them over into future years and continue to feel their impact on profits,” Altschul explained.

“While start-up costs related to Philadelphia contributed substantially to the adverse fourth quarter results, our investment in the second hub is the cornerstone of our long-term business strategy,” said David R. Hinson, Midway chairman and chief executive.

Other cost increases that affected Midway’s fourth quarter profits also had an impact on the rest of the airline industry. Fuel costs took the greatest toll on the industry’s collective bottom line.

“The entire industry’s results for the fourth quarter were impacted by higher fuel expenses and lower yields which resulted in many carriers reporting their lowest quarterly earnings for the year during the fourth quarter,” Altschul said. “It also is expected this will continue into the first quarter of 1990.”

Industry events and the expected fourth quarter loss also stirred up the company’s stock last year. Midway Airlines Inc. stock traded significantly higher during the second and third quarters, with some of the activity generated by the much publicized takeover threats in the airline industry, according to Altschul. The stock price fell during the fourth quarter because of the anticipated loss for 1989.

“Since the earnings were released on February 20, the stock has been basically unchanged,” Altschul said. “There still is interest on the part of institutional investors in Midway’s future growth. Many people are sophisticated enough to realize the loss in 1989 is an investment Midway is making for a brighter future.”

“It should give us all confidence that many people still feel the company has the ability to achieve returns that will make Midway Airlines stock a good investment.”

In addition to the Philadelphia hub, 1989’s financial highlights included the Midway Commuter’s continued growth in traffic and revenues. The Midway Commuter also entered into an agreement for 33 new Dornier 328 aircraft. “An order of this magnitude indicates continued commitment and confidence in the growth of the commuter operation,” Altschul said.

“Midway Aircraft Engineering also contributed significantly during 1989 by meeting our needs to put the 16 aircraft purchased from Eastern through maintenance requirements in a very tight schedule. Without their skill and dedication, we would have been unable to start service in Philadelphia during the fourth quarter.

“The past year provides a good example of how all areas of Midway worked together to achieve a common objective.”

The 1990 economic environment holds many challenges. In addition to fuel expenses, fares in leisure markets have been squeezed by Eastern Airlines’ fare strategy, Altschul said.

“It’s apparent that many areas of the economy, including automotive and related industries, are experiencing significant slowdowns. Higher energy costs and interest rates also have contributed to a sluggish economy, expected to continue for the first nine months of the year.”

“Some major cities will be impacted by this environment, while others will experience modest growth.”

“Having two hubs in different regions helps offset the impact of an economic slowdown in one of our hub cities.”

“However, it is important that we continue to focus on areas to reduce or stabilize our costs so that we can remain competitive in the current environment.”

Midway’s January 8, 1990 includes Midway’s new service from Philadelphia to Toronto which would begin on January 15.

Midway’s initial Toronto schedule:

FromToFlightDepartArriveFrequency
PHLYYZML 44810:15am11:35amDaily
PHLYYZML 4523:55pm5:15pmDaily
PHLYYZML 4628:54pm10:14pmDaily
YYZPHLML 4536:50am8:10amDaily
YYZPHLML 45712:20pm1:40pmDaily
YYZPHLML 4596:00pm7:20pmDaily

As of January 15, Midway would be operating 45 weekday departures from its new Philadelphia hub.

Source: “Midway Observer” (March 1990)

Midway’s February 15, 1990 timetable shows that the Philadelphia hub had expanded to include service to Montreal and Jacksonville.

Service from Philadelphia to Providence would begin on March 2 and service from Philadelphia to Savannah would begin on March 15. Each city would be served by three daily roundtrip flights.

With the addition of these four cities, Midway would be operating 57 weekday departures from its new Philadelphia hub.

Photo credit: Frank C. Duarte, Jr.

Midway introduced the longer-fuselage McDonnell Douglas MD-88 aircraft into its fleet in early 1990 with the first aircraft entering the fleet in February of that year.

The airline would eventually acquire a total of nine MD-82/83/88 aircraft.

All of the aircraft were identical in size and outward appearance to the two MD-81 aircraft that Midway had operated in the early 80s, but each series had various upgrades in cockpit and passenger cabin technologies and amenities.

Midway Airlines ticket jacket circa 1990

“Midway Dedicates MD-88 to Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin”

(Midway Observer – March 1990) The spirit of Benjamin Franklin lives on. Franklin, who thrilled in the science of flight, will be recognized in Philadelphia throughout 1990, marking 200 years since his death. The city is hosting events to honor Franklin and his contributions to science, communications, technology and politics. Midway will add to the celebration on March 14, when the airline dedicates a new McDonnell Douglas MD-88, the latest of the MD-80 Series twin engine aircraft, to the “Spirit of Benjamin Franklin.”

“In dedicating our first MD-88 to Benjamin Franklin, we are recognizing one of the greatest persons in American history who, in the opinion of many, contributed more to society than any one human being,” said David R. Hinson, chairman and chief executive. “We express our appreciation to the city of Philadelphia and with this dedication, demonstrate our commitment to continue building a mutually beneficial relationship between Midway and the citizens of Philadelphia.”

According to Thomas Muldoon, president of the Philadelphia Convention Bureau, this is a great display of appreciation to the people of Philadelphia during Ben Franklin’s bicentennial year. “Dedicating an aircraft to a man who was the grandfather of the aviation industry is a landmark event. I’m sure Franklin himself would be flattered by such recognition.”

Midway took delivery of the first of two new MD-88s in mid-February. Midway will add the second MD-88 to its fleet on March 15. The aircraft are configured with 143 seats, eight in first class and 135 in coach.

Delivery of these aircraft signified Midway’s commitment to service and growth, according to Hinson. “These MD-88s increase our capabilities and allow us to serve more passengers, transport more cargo and travel longer ranges. To our passengers, this means better schedules and improved cabin comfort and efficiency.”

Similar in design to the MD-87, the MD-88 has a longer fuselage and incorporates advanced interior design with the latest technology avionics.

Its exterior dimensions are identical to those of three other MD-80 models already in production, the MD-81, MD-82 and MD-83, all of which are 147.9 feet long and have wing spans of 107.8 feet. A smaller model, the MD-87, has the same wing span, but is shorter by 17.5 feet.

Standard power plants for the MD-88 are two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219 engines, each of which develops 20,000 pounds of takeoff thrust. This engine incorporates the latest technology and provides more than a two percent reduction in fuel burn compared to earlier JT9D-200 series engines.

With a full load of passengers and baggage, range of the MD-88 will be more than 2,360 statute miles.

Most of the new features in the MD-88 are visible in the flight deck and passenger cabin. A redesigned cockpit, with new color schemes and carpeting, will create an attractive and functional working environment for the flight crew.

Among the advanced systems in the flight deck are a flight management system (FMS) that guides the aircraft in both pitch and lateral axes to achieve maximum fuel burn savings and an electronic flight instrumentation system (EFIS) display which indicates attitude direction.

There are also light emitting diode (LED) flat plate displays for engine performance data and control surface position information and a wind shear sensing system that provides guidance in steering clear of the wind.

With this instrumentation, the MD-88 is equipped to map out routes, review flight plans and examine en route positions. The instrumentation makes it easier for the pilots to monitor the flight.

Sound-suppressing materials in the MD-80 Series aircraft offer quieter operations. Classified as a Stage 3 aircraft, the MD-88 meets the most stringent noise regulations enforced by the FAA.

The first MD-88 began service to West Palm Beach and Phoenix from Chicago on March 2, with one daily flight. On March 15, Midway will put the second MD-88 into service with one daily flight each to West Palm Beach and Phoenix and two flights to Orlando.

Midway’s April 1, 1990 timetable announced two new routes beginning May 1.

From the Chicago hub, Midway would add two daily roundtrip flights to Savannah while the Philadelphia hub would gain three daily roundtrip flights to Columbus.

Midway Connection, however, had discontinued service to Benton Harbor, Dubuque, Elkhart, Flint, Kalamazoo, Lafayette and Rockford.

The timetable also announced the introduction of the Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia to the Midway Connection fleet:

“The Midway Connection is also proud to announce the addition of two new Embraer 120 Brasilias to the fleet. Starting in May, you can experience this larger, faster, more comfortable 28 passenger plane by catching one of our commuter flights to Indianapolis or Springfield. By the end of 1990, we’ll have added a total of nine Brasilias to the commuter fleet.”

Photo credit: Adriaan Lengkeek
Photo source: “Midway Observer” (June/July 1990)

(Midway Observer – June/July 199o) The governments of Brazil, Germany and the United States have recently worked together for a common cause – to bring the Embraer (Brasilia) 120 to the Midway Commuter.

The delivery on March 31 of the first Brasilia to the Commuter’s headquarters in Springfield, Illinois signified the achievement of their mission. Introduction of the 28-seat aircraft marks a milestone event for the Commuter and the tale of its delivery reads like an adventure story.

The Brasilia, powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW-118 engines, is the first of 12 to be leased to Midway as a transition aircraft while the Commuter moves from the 19-seat Dornier 228 to the 28-seat Dornier 328. As of April 1, the commuter expects to take delivery of one Brasilia per month.

Delivery of the aircraft is no small feat, according to Richard E. Pfennig, president of the Commuter. “The work it takes to get this aircraft to us is astounding,” said Pfennig. “There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes activity going on 24-hours a day.”

Some examples of behind-the-scenes efforts include: numerous modifications to the aircraft; ferrying flights between three different countries, reconfigurations required by each country; preparation of the aircraft for dozens of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspections; and countless hours spent rewriting Midway Commuter’s procedure manuals to coincide with modifications made to the aircraft.

“The efforts put forth by each country made the arrival of the Brasilia unique,” said Pfennig.

The acquisition of the aircraft begins in Brazil, where the plane was initially manufactured to conform with specific German standards set by its original owners, DLT Deutsche Luftverkehsgelsellschat mbH (DLT), a subsidiary of Lufthansa.

“Because the Brasilia is built for use as a German aircraft, the flight instruments conform with German requirements,” said Pfennig. “That’s why, after Midway takes acceptance of the aircraft, it is returned to Brazil for extensive modifications at the Embraer facility. At the same time, the aircraft’s initial German registration is cancelled and a U.S. registration is assigned.”

Once the aircraft is modified, it is flown to Fort Lauderdale by two Embraer factory test pilots. “Again, this is not as easy a mission as it sounds,” according to Pfennig.

Embraer pilots were chosen for the venture since they are most familiar with the aircraft. Additionally, these pilots receive special permission from the Brazilian government to follow the somewhat risky flight pattern to Fort Lauderdale. “What makes the route hazardous is that the aircraft is without any radio contact for approximately 40 minutes during its flight over the Amazon jungle,” said Pfennig. “Beginning with the fourth aircraft delivery, Midway Commuter pilots will perform these ferry flights.”

Once the aircraft is safely past the jungle it heads to Fort Lauderdale where it must clear U.S. customs and be tested by the FAA to confirm the aircraft meets all U.S. regulations. A certificate of airworthiness is issued and the aircraft is flown, by the Embraer pilots to Mena, Arkasas.

Here the aircraft has its first rest. For the next eight days the plane is painted at Goodner Brothers Aircraft, one of the largest aircraft painting facilities in the world.

“Though the plane’s journey is practically over, the work involved in getting it into service is far from finished,” said Pfennig. “Once the plane touches down in Springfield, it goes through another FAA inspection to confirm that modifications measure up to U.S. standards.”

Almost immediately after receiving FAA clearance in Springfield, the plane is airborne – this time to train Midway pilots. The test pilots who flew the plane to Mena were met by two pilots from Germany.

The German pilots switched places with the Embraer test pilots from Brazil and ferried the aircraft to Springfield. “A swap of pilots is done as part of Dornier’s deal to assist in training Midway’s pilots to fly the Brasilia,” said Pfennig. “The German pilots work for DLT and know the best way to train new pilots. Though it seems confusing, each step we took was the most efficient way to deliver the aircraft.”

Taking delivery of the aircraft is just one of the countless proceedings Springfield faced while introducing the Brasilia to the fleet. Revising the operational, maintenance and training manuals presented another challenge. Existing manuals had to illustrate the new procedures involved in maintaining and operating the Brasilia.

“Only with a tremendous amount of help from everyone involved were we able to revise the flight operations manual in such a short time,” said Chris Rieken, chief pilot for the Commuter. “It was imperative that we cover issues relative to the operations staff, the FAA and inflight. The research involved was phenomenal.”

Examples of the revisions include: documenting how the Brasilia’s operations differ from the Dornier’s operation; how cockpit crew will now communicate with the new inflight representatives; explaining the aircraft’s capabilities in handling passengers with special needs and how to record weight and balance in the new aircraft.

According to Mark Lampert, director of stations, it took a team of five city managers more than two full weeks to piece together a new manual that explained station procedures.

“We had to be extremely thorough in documenting the differences in handling the Brasilias,” said Lampert. “Every word must be correct and make sense to the person reading the manual. There’s a lot of research, writing, cutting and pasting involved.”

The Commuter staff also had to develop original manuscript for the newly formed inflight class. “Basically we trained from the materials used by the Midway flight attendants who work the jet flight,” said Dana Wendell, director of inflight for the Commuter and former Midway jet flight attendant. “When we reached a procedure that could not be applied within the Brasilia aircraft, we modified the policy to fit our needs.”

With the aircraft delivery coordinated and the procedures manuals revised, the Commuter’s next challenge was to train the pilots on the Brasilia, as well as train the new class of inflight representatives.

The German pilots participated in special check flights conducted by the FAA in order to qualify as instructors for the Midway pilots.

These check flights certified that the Germans had a complete understanding of the U.S. air regulations as well as how to operate the aircraft within these requirements.

Rieken and Mark Zweidinger, director of operations, were the first pilots to receive the one week flight training from the German pilots. “The German pilots were great,” said Rieken. “They were willing to work seven days a week. They’ve been an outstanding asset in helping us get the training classes going.”

After they received certification to fly the Brasilia, Rieken and Zweidinger began training Midway pilots. At press time, six pilots had been certified.

Training to become the Commuter’s first inflight representatives presented some unique complications for the class of 11. “It was extremely difficult training without any knowledge of the aircraft’s interior,” said Wendell. “We based our initial inflight training on procedures carried out on a jet. When the aircraft finally arrived, we immediately started training onboard to become familiar with how to operate the new equipment.”

Prior to the aircraft’s delivery, the inflight class improvised by learning the basics while meeting at a nearby hotel. “Since this was the first inflight group for the Commuter, there was no designated space at the airport for training,” said Wendell. “We rented a meeting room at a local hotel and held our classes there. Our situation reminded me of a flashback to when Midway first began – we too had to learn the ropes in not so new conditions.”

None of the conditions hampered the new inflight representatives who passed the FAA proving runs with flying colors. These “runs” were done over a five day period and lasted 12 hours a day. “The proving tests were tough, but we passed with honors,” said Wendell. “It’s a reflection of how determined these people are to be the best. It’s also a display of team effort put forth between the pilots and inflight representatives. The pilots really helped.”

The 11 new inflight representatives were selected from Illinois and surrounding states, and will be based in Springfield.

Participation between the inflight representatives, pilots, mechanics and staff played a major role in getting the Brasilias into service, according to Pfennig. “With everyone’s support and enthusiasm, we were able to begin services on May 14 with four daily roundtrip flights to Indianapolis from Midway Airport.”

The Brasilia, certified to fly 25,000 feet, will be 50 percent faster than the Dornier, allowing it to maintain an air speed comparable to the jets. “A benefit of flying at this higher speed is that flight control will be able to maintain a steady flow of traffic,” said Pfennig. “Currently the Dorniers fly at a slower speed than the jets, thus slowing down the flow of arrivals.”

Another benefit found in the Brasilia is that its 28 seats counteract the disproportionate sizes of Midway’s fleet. “Delivery of the new MD-80 Series aircraft has allowed Midway to increase passenger loads, creating a need for a commuter fleet that offers comparable space to accommodate passengers connecting to and from jet aircraft,” said Pfennig. “However, the current commuter aircraft only offer a limited amount of space, creating an unequal amount of seats available.”

As an example, the MD-80 aircraft may bring in 25 passengers who want to make connections on a Commuter flight to Springfield. Currently, Midway can accommodate only 19 of those passengers at one time. The Brasilia removes this boundary and in addition, is the first in the Commuter’s fleet to offer lavatories, pressurized cabins and inflight service.

“We look forward to the advantages of using the Brasilia. It’s a wonderful aircraft and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to include them in our feet,” said Pfennig.

(Midway Observer – June/July 1990) At Midway Airlines’ 10th annual meeting held on May 17, Chairman and Chief Executive David R. Hinson reported that revenue is projected to increase to $700 million in 1990, compared with approximately $149 million in 1984; Midway’s market value has risen to $147 million in 1990 from $25 million in 1985; the price of common stock increased to $10 in 1990 compared with $3.50 in 1985; and Midway has gained 1.3 percent of total market share, versus 0.3 percent in 1985.

“If we work at the next five years, hopefully we can do as well as we have in the past five years,” Hinson told a standing room only crowd in the headquarters’ auditorium.

In his Chairman’s Report, Hinson outlined Midway’s major accomplishments, discussed the creation of the Philadelphia hub and talked about the future of the airline.

Major accomplishments include the commencement of operations in November 1979, the creation of the Metrolink concept, the acquisition of the Air Florida assets from the bankruptcy court, the order for the MD-80 Series aircraft, the acquisition of Fischer Brothers Aviation, the creation of “Project New Attitude” and creation of Midway’s second hub in Philadelphia in November 1989.

Hinson pointed out that naming the airline for the Chicago-based airport has given Midway a decided advantage, and certainly has contributed to its growth. In 1980, Midway was ranked number 28 among domestic carriers based on revenues; in 1989, Midway’s ranking had climbed to number 12. Midway has nearly 600 daily departures, with approximately 20 percent attributable to the commuter operation.

“Naming the company Midway Airlines gave us a significant advantage,” Hinson said. “There is strong identification between Midway Airport and Midway Airlines.”

Hinson explained that Philadelphia represented an opportunity for the airline to grow, since Midway Airport is not likely to expand. He said that Midway would have preferred to wait to establish its second hub, i.e. until the MD-80 Series aircraft were successfully introduced into the fleet.

“But had we not exercised the option when we did, the opportunity would have been gone forever,” Hinson said.

“There are no large cities without hubs and there are no small cities with hubs,” Hinson said. “Philadelphia is the nation’s fourth largest metropolitan area.”

“We’re already number two and growing nicely,” Hinson said. “We believe it was and is the right strategy.”

He acknowledged that the company is currently experiencing a period reminiscent of 1984, when Midway acquired the assets of Air Florida from the bankruptcy court.

“It is difficult to grow rapidly without incurring costs and problems,” Hinson said.

Coinciding with the start-up of the second hub, three unexpected situations arose which caused Midway to incur a substantial loss during the fourth quarter of 1989 and again during the first quarter of 1990.

Fuel prices escalated, American Airlines expanded its service to Florida and Eastern Airlines announced unrestricted fares lower than Midway’s introductory fares.

Hinson said that Midway has taken action to change the situation, including reducing frequency to Florida and re-allocating those assets to more profitable routes.

“We will continue to address scheduling and asset allocation in order to avoid the vulnerability of the first three months, when 42 percent of our capacity was in the Florida market,” Hinson said.

Hinson reported that Midway’s schedule reliability and completion factors have improved. In April, Midway posted a schedule completion rate of 98.3 percent; on-time departures were at 90 percent; and on-time arrivals were at 83 percent.

The addition of the Embraer Brasilia 120 aircraft to the Midway Commuter fleet, an interim step until the airline takes delivery of the 30-passenger Dornier 328 commencing in 1993, will satisfy the airline’s immediate need for larger and faster aircraft, Hinson said.

Hinson described Midway’s future strategy as one of “fine-tuning.”

“We will fine-tune what we have and grow the company in a profitable mode,” Hinson said. “We are not growing for growth sake. We have no desire to be the biggest. But we need a strategic, solid place to play and Midway Airport alone doesn’t provide it. We had to take a risk, but unfortunately, it was aggravated by circumstances beyond our control.”

Hinson announced that the stockholders had re-elected three directors to serve three-year terms that expire in 1993. They are Stephen H. Fuller, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of World Book, Inc.; Jack G. Real, aviation consultant; and Frank E. Reed, president, chief executive officer and a director of Philadelphia National Bank.

In late April, Midway released its first quarter results. Hinson commented on the loss that the airline sustained for the first three months of the year.

“The company’s first quarter results reflect the company’s continued investment in its second operational hub at Philadelphia International Airport, the development of which began in late 1989,” Hinson said.

Midway reported a net loss of $22,920,000 ($2.39 per fully diluted share) for the quarter ended March 31, 1990 on revenues of $157,160,000. This compares with net income of $2,899,000 ($.26 per fully diluted share) on revenues of $117,264,000 during the first quarter of 1989. Operating loss for the first quarter of 1990 was $26,149,000 compared with operating income of $3,525,000 during the same 1989 period.

“While the company expected that the first quarter would produce losses as its Philadelphia service continued to expand, those losses were magnified by substantial increases in costs of operation, most notably in the price of aviation fuel,” Hinson added.

On March 31, 1990, the company had 10,094,048 shares of common stock issued and outstanding.

Midway’s June 1, 1990 timetable shows that jet flights to Madison had been discontinued and the city reverted back solely to Midway Connection service.

With this timetable, Midway was operating 127 weekday jet departures from its Chicago hub and Midway Connection was operating an additional 96 weekday commuter flights from the airport.

Weekday jet departures from Midway Airport now consisted of:

  • Atlanta (4 flights)
  • Boston (4 flights)
  • Cleveland (6 flights)
  • Columbus (4 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (5 flights)
  • Denver (3 flights)
  • Des Moines (4 flights)
  • Detroit Metro (10 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (2 flights)
  • Fort Myers (2 flights)
  • Jacksonville (2 flights)
  • Kansas City (6 fights)
  • Las Vegas (3 flights)
  • Los Angeles (5 flights)
  • Memphis (2 flights)
  • Miami (3 flights)
  • Milwaukee (3 flights)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (10 flights)
  • New Orleans (3 flights)
  • New York LaGuardia (9 flights)
  • Omaha (4 flights)
  • Orlando (3 flights)
  • Philadelphia (8 flights)
  • Phoenix (3 flights)
  • Pittsburgh (4 flights)
  • Sarasota (1 flight)
  • Savannah (2 flights)
  • Tampa (3 flights)
  • Washington National (8 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (1 flight)

At the Philadelphia hub, Midway was now operating 59 weekday departures consisting of:

  • Albany (3 flights)
  • Boston (6 flights)
  • Buffalo (3 flights)
  • Chicago Midway (8 flight)
  • Columbus (3 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (2 flights)
  • Fort Myers (1 flight)
  • Hartford/Springfield (3 flights)
  • Jacksonville (3 flights)
  • Miami (3 flights)
  • Montreal Dorval (3 flights)
  • Orlando (3 flights)
  • Providence (3 flights)
  • Rochester (3 flights)
  • Sarasota (1 flight)
  • Savannah (3 flights)
  • Tampa (3 flights)
  • Toronto (3 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (2 flights)

“Chairman’s Report to Employees”

(Midway Observer – June/July 199o) Approximately 1,500 of Midway’s employees attended one of 19 separate meetings held in Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami and Springfield in April, where Chairman David R. Hinson presented a detailed overview of the state of the company.

The “Chairman’s Report to Employees” was designed to illustrate Midway’s areas of growth, discuss problems that the airline has been experiencing in marketing and operations including on-time performance and completion factors, and focus on what Midway has been doing to remedy these problems. The meetings also gave Midway employees the opportunity to ask questions about subjects not included in the presentation.

ROUTE STRUCTURE

From its initial route system in 1979 which consisted of four cities – service from Chicago’s Midway Airport to Cleveland, Detroit and Kansas City – Midway Airlines’ current route map now shows service to 60 cities from two hubs – Chicago and Philadelphia. This service includes Midway Commuter service to 18 cities from Chicago.

“This represents a fairly complicated route system, which requires us to do a lot of things differently than we’ve done before,” Hinson told the employees. “As a growing, complicated business, we do not have the margin for error. We have to be more careful.”

PASSENGERS

In 1990, Midway is expected to carry in excess of 5 million passengers. With the contribution of the Philadelphia hub, that number could approach 6 million in early 1991.

EMPLOYEES

Midway has grown from less than 200 employees when it commenced operations on November 1, 1979 to approximately 1,700 employees in 1985 and again now to approximately 6,000 full-time employees. One-half of Midway’s employees have been with the company less than two years.

“There are a number of problems associated with this rapid growth,” Hinson said. “But the alternative to not growing this fast was to risk a competitive disadvantage in Philadelphia by allowing USAir to gain a bigger market share. We simply could not afford to take that risk.”

MARKET SHARE

As of the first two months of 1990, Midway had captured 1.2 percent of the domestic market in terms of revenue passenger miles. Market share of 1.5 percent would generate approximately $1 billion in annual revenues.

ADVANCE BOOKINGS

Advance bookings for 1990 have increased substantially over 1989, reflecting the addition of Philadelphia to Midway’s marketing strategy.

MIDWAY COMMUTER

The Midway Commuter currently generates approximately 50,000 passengers per month, which in turn contributes $5 million in revenue, or between $55 million and $60 million on an annual basis.

“The Midway Commuter has been a terrific addition to our strategy and our route system,” Hinson said.

He also added that Philadelphia, unlike the Chicago-area, does not lend itself to supporting a commuter operation.

The addition of the 28-passenger Embraer Brasilia 120 aircraft to the Commuter fleet will enable the company to add new destinations because of the aircraft’s increased range, capacity and speed. Other benefits offered by the “new generation” aircraft include improved on-time and connecting possibilities through shorter block times and minimized air traffic control penalties because of the aircraft’s capability to travel at faster speeds than the Dornier 228s.

MIDWAY AIRCRAFT ENGINEERING

Miami-based Midway Aircraft Engineering (MAE), which employed approximately 400 individuals at year-end 1989, performs routine inspections and heavy maintenance for Midway’s jet fleet of DC9 and Boeing 737 aircraft, as well as performs contract maintenance for outside third party companies.

Last year, and specifically during the fourth quarter, MAE focused its attention on modifying the Eastern DC-9-31s to conform to Midway’s specifications; MAE also performed a major role in reconfiguring the company’s jet fleet to accommodate a first class cabin.

“MAE made it possible to get those aircraft into service,” Hinson said. “Without MAE, we could not have implemented the Eastern-Philadelphia strategy. It simply would not have worked out the way it did.”

During 1989, MAE performed routine maintenance, overhaul and modification work for Midway and third parties valued at $28 million.

FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE

Based on net income results, Midway Airlines has been a “break-even” airline for its first 11 years.

Midway lost money during the fourth quarter of 1989 and the first quarter of this year. Hinson said that “three, negative, non-controllable” factors led to this situation: the rise in fuel costs; increased competition in the Chicago-Florida market; and Eastern Airlines’ pricing to Florida.

“These three factors were not anticipated when we planned and started Philadelphia,’ said Hinson. “We had left a lot of margin financially in Philadelphia for unknown complications. The three of these factors together have more than used up the margin that were planned.”

ANNUAL TOTAL REVENUES

Annual total revenues for 1990 will approach $750 million, and should reach $900 million in 1991 and $1 billion in 1992, which will qualify Midway as a “major” carrier.

FACTORS AFFECTING 1989, 1990

The factors which affected Midway’s profitability in 1989 included charges associated with the development of the Philadelphia hub; escalating fuel prices; excess capacity in some markets, particularly Florida; competitive pricing in key markets, including Florida, Kansas City and Detroit; American Airlines’ new Florida strategy and degradation of Midway’s on-time and completion performances.

Here is how Midway is dealing with these issues: fuel prices are moderating; the Philadelphia hub is beginning to work well; the first class product is attracting passengers that otherwise would not have flown Midway; continued introduction of the MD-80 Series aircraft will improve the company’s public image, increase its performance and lower its operating costs; and an on-time improvement effort is being coordinated.

Hinson pointed out that the company’s MD-80 Series fleet stands at 10 – eight MD-87s and two MD-88 – and now equals the size of Midway’s Boeing 737 fleet.

OPERATING COSTS

Midway’s cost per available seat mile (ASM) is now at 9 cents. Factors which contributed to this increase include the price of fuel and the creation of first class service. The company is working diligently to control costs and reduce the cost per ASM to the 8-cent level, Hinson said.

CHICAGO: THREE AIRLINE TOWN

The three major carriers serving Chicago are Midway, United Airlines and American Airlines. Recently, American introduced service to virtually all of the Florida cities that Midway serves. American also launched non-stop service between Chicago and New Orleans; previously, Midway was the only carrier to offer this service. American’s commuter, the American Eagle, is also in direct competition with the Midway Commuter.

United Airlines continues to add capacity. As of January 1990, United offered 21 daily departures to Florida, matching Midway’s schedule.

Midway has matched Southwest Airlines in terms of fares and frequency to both Detroit and Kansas City. Hinson noted that two-and-a-half years ago, before Southwest began to serve Detroit from Midway, the average one-way fare was $99. Today, it is $49.

USAir sold some of its slots at O’Hare to American, and moved its Philadelphia capacity to Midway Airport.

Last year, Midway had 16.2 percent of the domestic departures from Chicago, compared with 13.8 percent in 1988. American gained a few points, while United lost ground.

INDUSTRY PRICING

Midway will continue to price aggressively where those opportunities exist, bur price is losing its edge as a differentiating factor. However, Midway continues to retain its image as a price leader, rather than a price follower.

FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAMS

As of 1990, Midway had 14 travel partners, compared with seven in 1989. Also in 1990, Midway implemented two elite levels to its FlyersFirst program – FlyersFirst Platinum for those who fly in excess of 20 round-trips during the previous 12-month period and FlyersFirst Gold, for Midway passengers who log between 10 and 20 round-trips during the course of a year.

Also in 1990, Midway went “stickerless” which means that FlyersFirst members need not affix a sticker displaying their membership number to the back of their ticket; the number can be entered at the time the reservation is made or during check-in.

The program has approximately 650,000 members and that number is growing by 4,000 to 5,000 per week.

FIRST CLASS

First Class load factors are slightly higher than anticipated. As of February 1990, 34 percent of those flying first class were full-fare passengers; 45 percent were upgrades and 21 percent were other, including employees and overflow from the coach cabin.

PHILADELPHIA

Unlike Midway’s unique presence at Midway Airport, the company does not have a market niche at Philadelphia International Airport and must compete on the basis of quality of service and perceived value. Midway’s goal is to replace Eastern Airlines, which at one point had 38 percent of the market. A more realistic goal for Midway is to capture 30 percent of the market, Hinson said. That would require doubling the number of aircraft which now serve the Philadelphia market, and increasing the number of daily departures to near 150, compared to 70 current departures.

Initial load factors from Philadelphia were good, Hinson also reported.

INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS

Midway is looking to expand its international partnerships, especially with the addition of the Philadelphia hub. Hinson said that such partnerships “take a long time to develop.”

SERVICE

Midway learned that 78 percent of its passengers consider low airfares to be the top factor when selecting an airline. On-time performance, with 77 percent, and schedule convenience, with 76 percent, were also among the top factors. Other factors were non-stop service, courtesy and airline reputation. Food was not among the top seven factors, Hinson pointed out.

ON-TIME PERFORMANCE

On-time performance and completion rate are extremely important because they are a major element in the customer’s decision-making process to select Midway, Hinson said. Sub-standard performance is costly in terms of reputation as well as real dollars. Hinson pointed out that in 1989, Midway “gave away” $15 million to other airlines who carried Midway passengers because of cancelled flights, misconnects or other problems.

To solve Midway’s on-time performance, inter-departmental coordination has been established between planning/scheduling; maintenance; customer service and operations.

In the planning/scheduling area, these changes have been made to date: increase turn times and through times; increase/decrease block times; lengthen the business day and establish closer coordination with operations and the Federal Aviation Administration. From a maintenance perspective, the following changes have been implemented: the objective is to have the airplane at the gate 45 minutes before departure for early morning originating flights; hold daily system review meetings and increase the commonality of spare/replacement equipment.

From a customer service standpoint, Midway has implemented Operation “Bulldog”; the “City Manager Take Charge” concept; early morning conference and performance reports on a daily basis; comprehensive daily operations report; connecting passenger coordinators at hub airports and making stations solely responsible for coding delays and cancellations.

On the operations front, Midway is implementing and expanding the utilization of an automated crew tracking system; implementing centralized weight and balance and revenue load control, extending Runway 4-22 by 375 feet at Midway Airport, commencing this fall and finishing in the spring of 1991; adding an ILS approach at Philadelphia to allow for dual operations and improving integration routines between operations and reservations.

“We are going to put on-time back where it has always belonged – right after safety in our list of items that we worry about,” said Hinson.

COMPLETION FACTOR

Midway’s goal is a completion factor above 98 percent.

PROJECT NEW ATTITUDE

Hinson said that the demands of building the airline have caused the company to temporarily suspend “Project New Attitude” training, but it will resume because Midway recognizes the contributions that this philosophy makes in terms of promoting good will, building brand loyalty and saving money.

GROWTH

In 1990, Midway will take delivery of four MD-82s. The company has 25 additional MD-82s on order, with options on another 37. Midway also ordered 33 Dornier 328s for the commuter fleet and has options on an additional 40 Dornier 328s.

“We have a good fleet plan in position. We have the ability to grow, contract or stay the same,” Hinson said.

In 1992, Midway is expected to have a total of 120 airplanes in its fleet, including Jet – Stage 2, Jet – Stage 3 and commuter aircraft. This compares with three DC9s when the company started in 1979.

QUESTIONS

“On the subject of a third airport in the Chicago-area, the Mayor of Chicago has indicated that he wants the master plan to be completed as soon as possible in order to affect changes to the existing terminal at Midway Airport.” Hinson added that the Mayor sees a third airport as a “20- to 25-year strategy.”

Regarding future expansion, Midway intends to start non-stop service between Chicago and Orange County in the fall. Frequency between Chicago and Philadelphia increased to eight daily flights from six effective May 1.

THE FUTURE

Hinson explained that Midway’s traffic is “good,” bookings are “OK,” the airline is beginning to operate better and the major investments have been made.

“Were doing everything possible to operate as efficiently as possible,” Hinson said. “Long-term, we are going to enhance the value of our shareholders’ investment.”

Source: “Midway Observer” (August/September 1990)

“Midway Commuter Marked Third Anniversary on June 15”

Photo source: “Midway Observer” (August/September 1990)

(Midway Observer – August/September 1990) The Midway Commuter, Midway Airlines’ commuter operation serving 18 Midwestern communities within a 250-mile radius of Midway Airport, marked its third anniversary on June 15, 1990.

The Midway Commuter commenced operations on June 15, 1987, with service from Chicago to six cities in three states: Peoria and Springfield in Illinois; Grand Rapids and Traverse City in Michigan and Green Bay and Madison in Wisconsin. It was only 23 days earlier that Midway had acquired Galion, Ohio-based Fischer Brothers Aviation and moved the operation to Springfield, Illinois, which became the Commuter’s base of operations.

In the ensuing three years, the Commuter has become a soaring success story: a 200 percent gain in destinations from Chicago (18 from 6); a 266 percent increase in fleet size (22 from 6); a 632 percent expansion in personnel (505 from 69); and a projected 753 percent gain in passengers (based on projected year-end passengers of 725,000 compared with 85,000 as of December 21, 1987).

The announcement on December 18, 1989 that a letter of agreement had been signed with Dornier Luftfahrt GmbH for the purchase of 33 new 30-seat Dornier 328s, with options on an additional 40, underscores the growth and success of the Commuter and positions it for the 1990s and beyond.

“The agreement with Dornier provides Midway with the most sophisticated and modern regional airline fleet for the 1990s,” said Richard Pfennig, president of the Midway Commuter and vice president and general manager of commuter operations.

Midway expects to take delivery of the first Dornier 328s in April 1993. In the interim, the Commuter will continue to utilize its fleet of 19-passenger Dornier 228s. It will accomplish its need for larger-capacity and faster aircraft by leasing twelve 28-passenger Embraer (Brasilia) 120s.

The Embraer was placed into service on May 14, operating on flights between Indianapolis and Chicago; and Springfield and Chicago. The second Embraer was put into service on June 18 and is being used on flights between Indianapolis and Chicago; Springfield and Chicago; and Traverse City and Chicago. By year-end the Commuter expects to have nine Brasilias in its fleet, eight of which will be in revenue service. (The ninth will be used as a trainer.)

Fred Bauman, station manager in Indianapolis, said the addition of the Brasilias to the Commuter’s fleet has become a marketing tool for the airline.

“Our customers love them because they are full service and have the feel of a jet aircraft,” Bauman said. “The passengers have really taken to them and it has proven to be an asset for us.”

Because Indianapolis has grown in popularity as a business market, close-in Midway Airport also has become increasingly more attractive, he said.

“Our passengers like to use Midway because they know they can get downtown in 15 or 20 minutes,” Bauman said.

In addition to expanding its destination roster 200 percent in the past three years, the Midway Commuter has increased frequencies to several key markets. In February, the Commuter increased daily round-trip flights between Indianapolis and Chicago to eight from the previous six. Daily round-trip flights to Bloomington/Normal, Peoria and Madison also increased to six in each market. (Madison is now served by two jet and four commuter flights.)

Pfennig credits the Commuter’s growth and success to three factors: building a reputation for superior on-time performance and reliability in the markets that it serves; increased frequencies to many key markets and the growth of Midway Airlines.

“We’re building a reputation for on-time performance and reliability that is superior to our competition in every city,” Pfennig said. “We will continue to improve so that we maintain our competitive advantage.”

Increased frequencies to key markets also has been a factor in the Commuter’s success since it offers the customer additional flights from which to choose and reduces connection times; approximately 75 percent of all Commuter passengers connect to one of Midway Airlines’ jet flights.

Adding new destinations to Midway Airlines’ route system makes the Commuter even more attractive as customers in these Midwestern cities choose to fly the Commuter to Midway Airport and continue onto cities that the airline previously did not serve.

Pfennig also noted that with the passage of time, the Commuter continues to become better known.

“Each year, we become more established in the communities we serve,” Pfennig said.

Oshkosh station manager Sue Luebben has observed firsthand.

“We’ve become a lot busier, and more and more people are getting to know who we are,” Luebben said.

Because the commuter has built a reputation for reliability and consistency, she added that there has been an obvious increase in the number of frequent flyers.

Source: “Midway Observer” (August/September 1990)

“Midway Employees Credited With Rapid Development of Philadelphia Hub”

(Midway Observer – August/September 1990) Nearly nine months after the start-up of Midway Airlines’ second hub, Philadelphia is operating at peak efficiency, with credit due to Midway employees who gave new meaning to the “can do” attitude.

Station Director Carl Crumley said the hub expects minor expansion to take place between now and November 15, when they will celebrate their first anniversary. On August 1, three additional daily non-stop flights will be added between Chicago and Philadelphia, increasing service to 12 flights. Effective September 4, Midway will inaugurate one daily non-stop flight between New Orleans and Philadelphia. (Midway has been serving New Orleans from Chicago since 1985.)

Crumley noted that this will boost the number of flights operating from the Philadelphia hub to 62, which compares with six flights prior to the creation of the hub.

Other cities currently served from Philadelphia include Toronto and Montreal in Canada; Albany; Boston; Buffalo; Columbus; Hartford/Springfield; Providence; Rochester; Savannah; plus eight Florida cities, including Fort Lauderdale; Fort Myers; Jacksonville; Miami; Orlando; Sarasota; Tampa and West Palm Beach.

Since the hub was established, the employee roster has experienced an eight-fold increase, growing to 288 from 34, Crumley said. This includes 223 Passenger Service Agents (including 19 skycaps), 34 security agents and 31 managers, shift managers and team leaders.

Currently, Midway is utilizing 10 parking positions and eight holding rooms at gates C-2, C-4, C-5, C-7, C-8, C-9, C-10 and C-14. Of the 19 ticket counter positions available to Midway, 12 are presently in service, Crumley explained.

Renovation at the hub are now complete, with the exception of one office. Gate areas were repainted and received new carpeting, furniture and podiums, while the jetways were completely overhauled.

Jimmy Duke, chief pilot in Philadelphia, said the pilot base now totals 152. An additional 10 pilots are expected to join by year-end, he said. Captains moved from Chicago and Miami, while the majority of first officers came to Midway having garnered experience at other carriers, Duke noted.

He said additional growth is not anticipated until the summer of 1991, when the company is scheduled to augment its fleet of MD-80s.

Duke credits Philadelphia-based employees with the rapid growth that the airline has been able to achieve at its new hub.

“Everyone went over and above what was required of them,” Duke said. “They deserve credit for where we are today.”

This “can do” attitude also was also apparent on the maintenance side. According to John Walter, manager of base maintenance in Philadelphia, his team “likes to work” and whenever they recognize an opportunity to help the company make money, they are “willing to jump right in and do whatever it takes.” In the relatively short time period that the maintenance base has been up-and-running, it has earned the reputation for getting the job done, Walter said.

“‘Route it over to Philadelphia; they will fix it’ is the reputation we have earned,” Walter said.

The Philadelphia maintenance base currently totals 105 individuals and includes facilities, ground support equipment, aircraft maintenance, technical stores and the cleaning/utility staff.

Walter said the base met the challenge of remodeling the facility and reworking the equipment, while still handling its day-to-day operations. He noted that most of the staff were hired locally and they have assembled a cross-section of experience.

“I can’t say enough about the people and how they respond,” Walter said. “The talent is just incredible.”

Walter credits his crew with developing a program for detergent washes on JT8D engines, which will result in a cost savings to the company.

“We are in the process of putting together a program to handle the exterior cleaning of aircraft, and to expand the interior carpet cleaning process,” said Walter.

Their day-to-day responsibilities include overnight checks, as well as some engineering orders and fleet campaign directives. They also handle unscheduled maintenance as required, plus support outlying stations.

With the daily operation running smoothly, Cheryl Strong, manager of inflight services in Philadelphia, said she is readying to focus her attention on broader issues. Prior to the end of 1990, she would like to implement voluntary base meetings, which would give her staff the opportunity to further learn from each other’s experiences. She said the meetings would be strictly voluntary and she even envisions her staff taking an active role in orchestrating the meetings.

Strong said she considers the creation of the flight attendant base, and its expansion to its present size of 218, as one of the major accomplishments.

“We can take pride in having created a comfortable and friendly base, which is an extension of our Chicago hub,” Strong said.

Source: “Midway Observer” (October/November 1990)

Midway’s October 1, 1990 timetable shows the addition of several new routes.

In Chicago, Midway added two daily roundtrip flights to Orange County and returned to the Saint Louis market with five roundtrip flights on weekdays and reduced weekend frequency.

Weekday jet departures from Midway Airport now numbered 128 with an additional 108 weekday departures operated by Midway Connection.

Weekday jet departures from the Chicago hub now consisted of:

  • Atlanta (4 flights)
  • Boston (4 flights)
  • Cleveland (6 flights)
  • Columbus (4 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (5 flights)
  • Denver (3 flights)
  • Des Moines (4 flight)
  • Detroit Metro (10 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (2 flights)
  • Fort Myers (1 flight)
  • Jacksonville (2 flights)
  • Kansas City (6 flights)
  • Las Vegas (2 flights)
  • Los Angeles (4 flights)
  • Memphis (2 flights)
  • Miami (2 flights)
  • Milwaukee (2 flights)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (10 flights)
  • New Orleans (3 flights)
  • New York LaGuardia (9 flights)
  • Omaha (4 flights)
  • Orange County (2 flights)
  • Orlando (3 flights)
  • Philadelphia (9 flights)
  • Phoenix (3 flights)
  • Pittsburgh (4 flights)
  • Saint Louis (5 flights)
  • Sarasota/Bradenton (1 flight)
  • Savannah (1 flight)
  • Tampa (3 flights)
  • Washington National (8 flights)

At the Philadelphia hub, Midway was operating 62 weekday departures including one new daily roundtrip flight to both Las Vegas and New Orleans. (The Las Vegas flights would offer one-stop service to and from Los Angeles.)

Weekday departures from Philadelphia now consisted of:

  • Albany (3 flights)
  • Boston (6 flights)
  • Buffalo (3 flights)
  • Chicago Midway (9 flights)
  • Columbus (3 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (2 flights)
  • Fort Myers (1 flight)
  • Hartford/Springfield (3 flights)
  • Jacksonville (2 flights)
  • Las Vegas (1 flight)
  • Miami (3 flights)
  • Montreal Dorval (3 flights)
  • New Orleans (1 flight)
  • Orlando (4 flights)
  • Providence (3 flights)
  • Rochester (3 flights)
  • Sarasota/Bradenton (1 flights)
  • Savannah (2 flights)
  • Tampa (3 flights)
  • Toronto (3 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (2 flights)

“Midway Implements Cost-Reduction Plans”

(Midway Observer – October/November 1990) Designed to return Midway Airlines to profitability, the company evaluated every aspect of operations and has implemented a series of cost-reduction programs. These programs include the renegotiation of contracts with suppliers, review and control of overtime policies and an active fuel cost-containment plan.

Thomas E. Schick, president and chief operating officer, explained that every are of cost was scrutinized, adding that the review process is an ongoing one.

“Constant monitoring of every aspect is continuing to take place,” Schick said.

The programs include:

• Vendor contracts: renegotiated contracts with suppliers. Among these were contracts with hotels where Midway houses its overnight crews; by using a particular vendor, Midway now receives complimentary copies of USA Today for distribution on early morning flights; monitoring the option to take cash discounts from vendors for early payment invoices; and adding the “favored nation clause” with engine overhaul agencies so that Midway is not charged rates that are not competitive with what other carriers are paying.

• Employment: examined employment carefully to achieve “optimum staffing for our mission” and to provide the proper balance of manpower to flying needs; review and control of costly overtime.

• Fuel: Midway is able to track the burn rate (amount of fuel consumption) by each aircraft, and has embarked on an education process to lower usage. One effective means has been to take extra weight off certain aircraft.

Jet fuel is one of an airline’s largest expenses. To conserve use, Midway has joined other carriers in adopting the following procedures: reducing cruise speed (a few miles-per-hour reduction in speed will extend a flight only a few minutes but can result in significant reductions in fuel consumption); expanding flight simulator use (while some training flights are required, simulators are eliminating thousands of extra flights annually and saving millions of gallons of fuel); growth of computerized flight planning (computerized flight planning selects altitude that will yield the minimum consumption of fuel); pre-takeoff and post-landing measures (after the aircraft lands, often one or more engines are shut down as it taxis to the gate; or if an aircraft is being held at the departure gate, engines my be shut down awaiting clearance); and augmenting the fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft.

• Telephone and communication equipment; monitor and reduce these costs.

John J. Luttrell, vice president and controller, explained that one of the goals was to reduce Midway’s operating cost per available seat mile (ASM) to 8 cents as soon as possible. He noted that this goal was established when fuel prices were averaging 60 to 63 cents per gallon. For the three-month period ending June 30, 1990, Midway had reduced its operating cost per ASM to 8.28 cents. From every indication it appeared Midway would achieve its goal in the fourth quarter.

A committee with representation from all departments was formed, chaired by Lois A. Gallo, senior vice president of customer services, to work collectively towards achieving this goal.

Luttrell stressed that the program was not “a just say ‘no’ project” – that Midway was open and appreciative to all suggestions.

“With over 600 flights a day, if you can find something small that can be changed, it can add up to big dollars,” Luttrell said.

As an example, Midway switched to a better insulated cup on flights rather than having to use two paper cups when serving hot beverages. The insulated cup is less expensive than the paper ones, he pointed out.

In revenue accounting, the implementation of inexpensive, but effective automation techniques resulted in a 60 percent improvement in productivity, Luttrell said.

He encourages all employees to pass long their suggestions.

“We always want to hear from employees. Line employees especially, are in the best position to evaluate what’s going on throughout the system,” said Luttrell.

Kuniaki “Jun” Tsuruta, senior vice president of cost management and material services, is responsible for all of the company’s purchasing activities. Tsuruta said that with a fleet of approximately 65 jet aircraft, his goal is to “utilize and optimize the company’s assets.” Since each aircraft generates approximately $10 million in revenues, it is imperative that “down time” or time out of revenue service is minimal. To help reach this goal, Tsuruta is placing renewed emphasis on obtaining high-quality products to minimize parts failure.

Tsuruta said the company will use its negotiating skills and professionalism to ensure it maximizes its investments.

“We need to manage our costs when we’re making money or when we’re not making money,” Tsuruta said.

At the end of July, there were clear signs that Midway might turn a profit in August and reach overall financial stability in the fourth quarter of 1990. However, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the resultant shock to the world oil markets upset these projections.

As a result, on September 27, Midway announced several actions it was compelled to take to ensure its long-term survival; the 40-cent increase in the price of aviation fuel in a 60-day period was forcing the company to spend an additional $7 million in monthly expense. Between October 1 and November 1, Midway plans to:

• Reduce the work force by 10 percent through a combination of attrition and furloughs. Approximately 500 of Midway’s 5,700 full-time and part-time employees will be furloughed;

• Suspend service and close the station at Savannah effective November 1;

• Reduce unprofitable flying in 12 markets including Cleveland, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Omaha, Springfield (from Midway); and Albany, Boston, Columbus, Jacksonville, Miami and Rochester (from Philadelphia);

• Withdraw from service eight of the least fuel-efficient aircraft – seven DC-9-15s and one Boeing 737-200 – replacing them with the new, more fuel-efficient MD-80s.

“Midway Adds Saint Louis and Orange County”

(Midway Observer – October/November 1990) On October 1, Midway Airlines inaugurated non-stop service between Chicago’s Midway Airport and Lambert Field in Saint Louis; between Midway and John Wayne Airport in Orange County; between Philadelphia and Las Vegas, with continuing service to Los Angeles International Airport, as well as implemented schedule additions to five commuter destinations: Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison, Moline and Springfield.

John P. Tague, senior vice president of marketing and planning, pointed out that both Saint Louis and Orange County are new additions to Midway’s destination roster. Las Vegas and Los Angeles are new destinations from Midway’s hub at Philadelphia International Airport.

“The growth is in keeping with the airline’s long-term plans to provide convenient air transportation to the top business centers and vacation capitals,” said Teague. “We are intent on providing convenience to our customers and will continue to expand so that we remain the airline of choice.”

Orange County is the second west-coast destination for Midway; the airline inaugurated service to Los Angeles on May 1, 1989 with the addition of the MD-80 Series aircraft to Midway’s jet fleet. Starting October 1, Midway began operating two daily round-trip flights between Orange County and Chicago using MD-80s.

Also effective October 1, Midway started service between Chicago and Saint Louis with five daily round-trips, utilizing McDonnell Douglas DC-9 aircraft.

Midway now offers one flight a day between Philadelphia and Las Vegas with continuing, same plane service to Los Angeles, utilizing an MD-80.

On October 1, the Midway Commuter added two round-trip flights between Milwaukee and Midway Airport. This increased the number of daily commuter flights to five; Milwaukee is also served by two daily jet flights operated by Midway Airlines. Effective the same day, the commuter added one round-trip flight to each of four other commuter destinations. The number of flights to Green Bay, Madison and Moline increased to six while Springfield is now served by eight daily flights.

Effective October 28, the commuter will add one daily round-trip flight to each of three other commuter destinations. The number of daily flights to Kalamazoo, Muskegon and Grand Rapids will increase to six with this schedule change. Two non-stop flights will be added between Midway and Oshkosh, increasing the number of daily round-trips to seven.

Richard E. Pfennig, president of the Midway Commuter and vice president and general manager of commuter operations, explained that the addition to the commuter fleet this year of several larger capacity, 28-passenger Embraer (Brasilia) 120 aircraft for use on other routes made it possible to increase frequency between Midway and nine of their 18 commuter destinations.

“Augmenting the Midway Commuter fleet with the Brasilias gives us the ability to add more capacity, it also enables us to release aircraft to provide increased frequency to those communities who have supported our commuter operation since we inaugurated service,” Pfennig said.

Effective September 5, Midway began non-stop service between New Orleans International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport. Using McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 aircraft, Midway operates one daily round-trip flight.

With the addition of service to Saint Louis and Orange County, Midway Airlines and the Midway Commuter offer daily departures to 61 cities in the United States, Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands and Bahamas.

Midway Air Leaving Philadelphia

(October 20, 1990) “Less than a year after it began an ambitious plan to make Philadelphia a hub, Midway Airlines Inc. said today that it was abandoning the effort and selling the operations to USAir Inc. In doing so, Midway, already troubled by high jet fuel costs, will lay off more employees, end 60 flights by April 30 and retreat to its home base of Chicago to ride out what could be a long and difficult period for the entire airline industry.

Midway’s problems are symptomatic of the industry. Faced with sluggish traffic, continued harsh competition and the possibility of even more fuel price increases, many airlines fear deep losses in coming months.

Midway said that with fewer people traveling and with the cost of airline fuel nearly doubling since July, it simply could not afford to cover its day-to-day operating costs and continue the investment needed to make a strong hub at the Philadelphia International Airport.

Midway said it would sell its entire Philadelphia operation – landing slots, international routes, 11 gates and other equipment – to USAir for $67.5 million. Midway established its Philadelphia hub last November by buying the assets, along with about $100 million worth of planes, from Eastern Airlines for more than $200 million. Midway will keep the aircraft: 16 DC-9 jets.

Midway said it would lay off an unspecified number of its 800 employees in Philadelphia. The carrier recently announced an 8 percent cut in its work force of 6,300. Dismantling the Philadelphia operation is a major setback that will force Midway to post a loss of more than $30 million in the fourth quarter on top of the $34 million it lost in the first half of the year. Company executives said the airline’s declining resources left them no choice.

”The risk would have been continuing to drive down the same road and driving off a cliff,” David R. Hinson, Midway’s chairman and chief executive, said today in a telephone interview.”

Midway’s December 1, 1990 timetable announced the upcoming service cuts at Philadelphia.

CHANGES TO OUR PHILADELPHIA HUB

“Effective January 8, 1991, non-stop service will be discontinued between Philadelphia and Albany, Boston, Buffalo, Columbus, Hartford, Las Vegas, Montreal, New Orleans, Providence, Rochester and Toronto. Philadelphia hub service to points in Florida will continue through April. Midway will continue to provide frequent non-stop service between Philadelphia and Chicago. The service reductions do not effect the Chicago hub.”

The timetable also indicates that Midway will begin service from Chicago to Hartford and Midway Connection will begin service from Chicago to Louisville on January 8.

Service to Savannah had been discontinued.

“Midway Airlines Seeks Chapter 11 Shield”

By ROBERT E. DALLOS
MARCH 27, 1991 12 AM  

Midway Airlines, the first carrier to be certified under airline deregulation, Tuesday filed for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection, the third carrier to fall victim to the turmoil in the industry since the beginning of the Persian Gulf crisis.

The Chicago-based carrier, which cited financial woes from the high price of jet fuel during the Gulf War and a drop in passengers because of the recession, said it intends to maintain its flight schedule while attempting a reorganization, including service from Chicago to Los Angeles and Orange County.

All tickets will be honored and there will be no employee layoffs, Midway added.

The airline said it had arranged for a $40-million secured line of credit from Continental Bank, which will finance current operations while the carrier reorganizes. Chapter 11 allows a company to continue operating under protection from creditor lawsuits while it works out a plan to settle debts.

“Everything stays the same,” Chairman and Chief Executive David R. Hinson said in a prepared statement. “We may have to shrink in the future because no one can predict what the airline environment will be.” For now, the carrier said it intends to only drop service to the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas on May 1.

Hinson said Midway’s economic difficulties “subsequent to the (Iraq invasion of Kuwait)” had made it impossible to raise capital, ultimately requiring the bankruptcy filing made late Monday night. “The Gulf War had extracted $50 million in high fuel costs and lost revenues,” he added.

“We greatly regret having to take this step,” Hinson said, “but it is the prudent course and, in our judgment, the only course that will enable Midway to continue operations, restructure its finances in an orderly way, and survive as one of the remaining two post-deregulation airlines.”

Midway’s April 1, 1991 timetable shows the airline had discontinued all service to Hartford, Jacksonville, Memphis and Pittsburgh.

Philadelphia service had been reduced to Florida and Chicago flights. Daily departures from Philadelphia now consisted of seven flights to Chicago and one flight each to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Miami, Orlando, Sarasota, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

Midway Connection service had been expanded to include Louisville and Toledo. However, service to Oshkosh had been discontinued.

By June 1, 1991 , Midway’s timetable shows the airline’s route system had shrunk even further. Service to Freeport, Orange County, Saint Croix and Saint Thomas had been discontinued

Louisville service had been upgraded from Midway Connection service to all-jet service.

Midway Connection had discontinued service to Lansing, Muskegon and Oshkosh.

Midway was now operating 119 weekday jet flights from Chicago with Midway Connection providing another 77 departures.

Midway’s weekday jet schedule from Chicago now consisted of:

  • Atlanta (5 flights)
  • Boston (5 flghts)
  • Cleveland (8 flights)
  • Columbus (5 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (5 flights)
  • Denver (3 flights)
  • Des Moines (4 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (1 flight)
  • Fort Myers (2 flights)
  • Kansas City (6 flights)
  • Las Vegas (2 flights)
  • Los Angeles (5 flights)
  • Louisville (5 flights)
  • Miami (1 flight)
  • Minneapolis/Saint Paul (10 flights)
  • New Orleans (1 flight)
  • New York LaGuardia (9 flights)
  • Omaha (4 flights)
  • Orlando (3 flights)
  • Philadelphia (7 flights)
  • Phoenix (2 flights)
  • Saint Louis (6 flights)
  • Sarasota (1 flight)
  • Tampa (3 flights)
  • Washington National (6 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (1 flight)

Midway’s final timetable would be dated September 4, 1991. At that time, the airline was operating 116 weekday departures from Chicago with Midway Connection was operating an additional 76 departures from the airport.

Weekday jet departures from Midway Airport now consisted of:

  • Atlanta (5 flights)
  • Boston (4 flights)
  • Cleveland (7 flights)
  • Columbus (5 flights)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (5 flights)
  • Denver (3 flights)
  • Des Moines (4 flights)
  • Detroit Metro (9 flights)
  • Fort Lauderdale (2 flights)
  • Fort Myers (1 flight)
  • Kansas City (6 flights)
  • Las Vegas (2 flights)
  • Los Angeles (5 flights)
  • Louisville (5 flights)
  • Miami (1 flight)
  • Minneapolis/Sant Paul (8 flights)
  • New Orleans (1 flight)
  • New York LaGuardia (9 flights)
  • Omaha (3 flights)
  • Orlando (4 flights)
  • Philadelphia (7 flights)
  • Phoenix (2 flights)
  • Saint Louis (6 flights)
  • Sarasota (1 flight)
  • Tampa (3 flights)
  • Washington National (6 flights)
  • West Palm Beach (2 flights)

Midway Connection’s weekday departure from Midway Airport now consisted of:

  • Bloomington/Normal (5 flights)
  • Champaign/Urbana (5 flights)
  • Grand Rapids (6 flights)
  • Indianapolis (8 flights)
  • Kalamazoo (5 flights)
  • Madison (6 flights)
  • Milwaukee (7 flights)
  • Moline (5 flights)
  • Peoria (5 flights)
  • Rockford (6 flights)
  • South Bend (6 flights)
  • Springfield, IL (6 flights)
  • Toledo (5 flights)
  • Traverse City (4 flights)

Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 Seating Chart (October 1991)

Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-87 Seating Chart (October 1991)

Midway Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-82/83/88 Seating Chart (October 1991)

“Midway Airlines Closes After Collapse of Sale Agreement With Northwest”

CHICAGO (AP) _ Midway Airlines, the nation’s 12th-largest airline, shut down today after Northwest Airlines backed out of a deal to buy it, leaving as many as 4,300 employees jobless in an already troubled industry.

″I’ve got four kids,″ said Perry Rush, who loaded planes for Midway. ″It will be really hard to tell my kids I’m not going to work tomorrow.″

Midway, which was under bankruptcy protection, ceased operations at midnight, closing its gates at Midway Airport, its hub, after its last planes in the air arrived.

The last Midway flight arrived from Los Angeles at 5:30 a.m. today.

″The crew worked through it – way above the call of duty,″ said Marilynn Greenfield, a passenger on board. ″It was very difficult for those people.″

Northwest, the nation’s No. 4 airline, said it backed out of the $153 million deal Wednesday because Midway gave it false information about its past business. Midway denied the allegation.

David R. Hinson, Midway chairman and chief executive, said the airline couldn’t continue selling tickets with an uncertain future. ″Moreover, we have an obligation to preserve as much value as possible for Midway’s creditors,″ he said.

A recording on Midway’s reservations line advised ticket holders to contact their travel and credit agencies. United and American airlines said they would honor some Midway tickets.

Workers for the city’s Aviation Department handed out coffee at the airport today and information brochures to help travelers reschedule their flights with other carriers.

The department offered free shuttle service today and Friday to Chicago’s biggest airport, O’Hare International. It also waived automobile parking fees for Midway ticket holders who may have to extend their stay in Chicago.

Midway, with a fleet of 62 planes, operated 196 flights a day to 41 destinations in the continental United States and the Bahamas. The 12-year-old airline carried nearly 400,000 passengers last month.

Midway spokeswoman Laura Podlesny said she didn’t know what would happen to Midway employees. But Northwest said it might hire some of them.

The scene at Midway Airport was chaotic after word of the shutdown spread. Midway employees cried, hugged and exchanged addresses as they began dismantling ticket-counter computers.

″You could sense it was coming. It was like we were on life support waiting for someone to pull the plug, and it was just a matter of time,″ said Bill Strock, a Midway ticket agent for four years.

Pilot Tom Ryan, with Midway since 1984, said he learned the airline had shut down when air traffic controllers offered their condolences when he landed Flight 927 from Los Angeles at about 12:15 a.m. ″I asked if they knew something we didn’t know and they said, ’You guys shut down as of midnight,‴ he said.

The nation’s airlines have been struggling since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 pushed jet fuel prices sharply higher. The Gulf War that followed scared off many travelers and the recession has kept others away.

Since then, Eastern Airlines has shut down and Pan Am, Continental and America West filed for bankruptcy protection. Trans World Airlines plans to undergo bankruptcy reorganization next year.

Last month, the judge overseeing Midway’s Chapter 11 reorganization had approved Northwest’s proposed purchase of Midway. Northwest had agreed to hire most of Midway’s employees as part of the buyout.

The transaction would have completed an acquisition of Midway’s assets that Northwest began last month when it paid $20 million for 21 Midway gates at Midway Airport and assumed $1.7 million in Midway’s debt.

Northwest had indicated that if Midway failed, it would consider using the gates to expand at Midway Airport and hire some Midway employees.

Northwest spokesman Mark Abels charged that Midway misled his carrier on its 1990 traffic and revenues, causing Northwest underestimated by $35 million the cost of running the airline each year.

Midway Airlines provided about 70 percent of the traffic out of Midway Airport, Chicago’s second-largest airport behind O’Hare, said Lisa Howard, spokeswoman for the Chicago Aviation Department.

USAir, Northwest, ComAir and Southwest airlines also operate out of Midway on the city’s southwest side, she said.

″We fully expect for another carrier to come in and fill the void created by Midway’s loss,″ she said. ″There is a demand for service at the airport.″

“Midway Air Shuts Down After Buyout Is Abandoned”

Midway Airlines said it had ceased operations early this morning. The announcement came just hours after Northwest Airlines said it was abandoning its effort to acquire the small Chicago-based carrier.

Midway, which employs 4,000 people, had been trying to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code and will now probably have to liquidate.

A recording on Midway’s reservations phone line advised ticket holders to contact their travel agents and credit card companies. In past airline shutdowns, other carriers have honored tickets.

Midway Airport in Chicago, the home base for the airline, said no flights were scheduled in or out of the airport around midnight central time, when the airline ceased operation. There were also no Midway flights scheduled at La Guardia Airport in New York at that hour.

The carrier’s collapse is another significant blow to deregulation, which had sought to create several airlines able to compete with older, larger carriers.

If Midway liquidates, only one important airline created after the industry was deregulated in 1979 will be left, America West Airlines. But it has also had troubles and is operating under the protection of the bankruptcy code.