About 140 Appleton-based Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. workers will need to move to another hub once the Outagamie County Regional Airport hub closes Oct. 1.
While 80 pilots and 60 flight attendants will need to move, find another job or figure out how to commute to their new hub, the move doesn’t affect the six United Express flights that run daily between the Greenville airport and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
The privately owned airline, which employs 475 locally, also will keep its corporate headquarters in Appleton and provide customer service at the Greenville airport.
“Ultimately, we don’t know where we’re going to be,” said Carl Fleming, a Neenah resident who pilots jets for Air Wisconsin out of its Appleton hub. “Every pilot in every Air Wisconsin domicile is going to be displaced.”
While Fleming has signed up to fly routes for Air Wisconsin based out of Denver, other pilots may be moved to hubs in Philadelphia, Washington’s Reagan National Airport or another still-to-be-named East Coast hub.
Founded in 1965, Air Wisconsin is the largest independently held regional airline in the United States and carries about 7 million passengers annually.
As a network carrier, the airline transports travelers from small and mid-size airports to larger hubs where they can connect to destinations across the country. Right now, the airline is in a state of transition as it stops flying United Express routes and begins picking up routes for US Airways.
While Air Wisconsin works to figure out its future, travelers who fly the daily United Express flights between Outagamie County Regional Airport and Chicago shouldn’t notice much of a change.
“We have had assurances by Air Wisconsin and United that the public won’t see any differences besides the type of aircraft being flown,” said Don Hoeft, interim airport manager at Outagamie County Regional Airport. “Instead of being flown on an Air Wisconsin jet, it will be another provider.”
Air Wisconsin, which employs 3,800 nationwide, including 475 locally, still will provide customer service at the Greenville airport and keep its corporate headquarters in Appleton, said airline spokeswoman Kelly Lanpheer.
“We will transition a small number of aircraft from our United Express fleet to US Airways Express beginning in August with the last aircraft scheduled in February of next year,” she said. “Just because a pilot or flight attendant is based out of domicile like Appleton doesn’t mean they live in the area. A lot of our employees commute to their hub.”
A new start
Last fall, United Airlines, which is in bankruptcy, announced it was going to rebid the 500 daily Express routes flown by Air Wisconsin as a way to lower its costs. Afterwards, Air Wisconsin officials began looking around to find a new home for their 84 jets.
In February, Air Wisconsin announced a $125 million investment in bankrupt US Airways. As part of that deal, Air Wisconsin became a US Airways Express carrier.
Starting Aug. 13, Air Wisconsin jets will fly US Airways Express routes between Philadelphia and Minneapolis; Philadelphia and Milwaukee and Milwaukee and Charlotte, N.C.
“It’s a limited scope right now, and we really expect to ramp up and expand their routes starting in September,” said US Airways spokeswoman Amy Kudwa. “A lot of the schedule still needs to be ironed out. We hope to have them eventually in a couple dozen of our markets.”
US Airways is heavily entrenched along the East Coast and has hubs in Philadelphia, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, New York LaGuardia, Boston Logan International Airport and Reagan National Airport in Washington.
“By making an investment in US Airways, Air Wisconsin will be able to leverage more power and received rights to fly its regional flights,” said Bill Hochmuth, a Minneapolis-based analyst with Thrivent Investment Management.
Air Wisconsin’s deal with US Airways took another turn in May when the Arlington, Va.-based airline announced a merger with America West, creating the nation’s sixth-largest airline.
According to filings this week with the Security and Exchange Commission, Air Wisconsin will be the second-largest shareholder in the newly merged airline with about 13 percent ownership. The airline, which will keep the US Airways moniker, will be based in Tempe, Ariz.
“Can Air Wisconsin become a major player in a merged airline? Time will only tell,” Hochmuth said.
Air Wisconsin, however, is still providing ground-handling services for United at its Washington Dulles International hub.
As a United carrier, Air Wisconsin currently has domiciles in Appleton, Denver, Chicago and Washington Dulles. Those sites will all close once the airliner stops flying for Chicago-based United. For Air Wisconsin’s pilots and flight crews, change will be in order.
“Starting in September, a third of the Appleton-based pilots will be moved out and by Oct. 1, the Appleton domicile will be closed,” said Fleming, who added that the company has been open with its employees while it sorts out its financial future.
So far, Air Wisconsin has only announced two of its new hubs — Washington Reagan National and Philadelphia. “We’re waiting to see where the third one will be,” Fleming said.
While some pilots may decide to move to the new hubs, others may be like Fleming, who will just commute. “I’ll fly out of Denver. The good news is that if any pilots do relocate, all the expenses will be covered per our contract,” he said.
“But there are negative consequences for all involved. Some pilots are leaving the airline and others are just getting out of the business.”
Apodino From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 3979 posts, RR: 6 Reply 5, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 4746 times:
Quoting FutureUApilot (Reply 1): Very sad time here around ATW... All of our buisness will be leaving except for the occasional NWA or DAL regional. Sad time too say the least.
Not quite true, ATW will still be a United Express City, the carrier operating the service will change. Don't know who it will be yet, but my money would be on Skywest. And the handling agent will still be ZW and ZW will keep their hq's in the airport terminal for the time being.
And don't forget the Midwest Connect service with the Do328 Jets.
Apodino From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 3979 posts, RR: 6 Reply 6, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 4736 times:
Quoting Checkraiser (Thread starter): ccording to this article the transition from United to US is starting. I assume the "yet to be named East coast hub" is CLT.
CLT has not been mentioned at all and I doubt it will be CLT. The third domicile is likely going to correspond to a new MX base. The big rumor, and this seems to be all but confirmed, is that the third domicile will be ORF. But its just a rumor and not official.
SLUAviator From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 357 posts, RR: 4 Reply 8, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 4670 times:
I've also heard from our pilots and mechanics that ORF is going to be the new crew base. It seems like neither group is happy about it either. I've been told even more pilots may quit then already have if they get based in ORF. It won't be easy to commute there.
Apodino From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 3979 posts, RR: 6 Reply 9, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 4571 times:
Quoting SLUAviator (Reply 8): I've also heard from our pilots and mechanics that ORF is going to be the new crew base. It seems like neither group is happy about it either. I've been told even more pilots may quit then already have if they get based in ORF. It won't be easy to commute there.
I was thinking that if ORF is the crew base, and for some crews that live in ORD, WN has service from MDW that would work. Of course, I believe that many of the crews commute from DEN already, so ORF certainly won't help. But ATW is already a crew base as is, and we have many crews commute in to here, and I would argue that ATW is a harder place to get to than ORF. Of course, ATW doesn't have the tourists and vacationers that ORF does too.
Ouboy79 From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 4309 posts, RR: 22 Reply 12, posted (8 years 5 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 4315 times:
Quoting Skyexramper (Reply 11): ATW a hub..hehehe....not anymore, it once was when Air Wisky ran as Air Wisky
When Air Wisky ran as Air Wisky...those were the days. Going back through my old Air Wisky timetables is always entertaining...when you see connections through cities like TOL and FWA. Heck for a period of time FWA and TOL were #2 and #3 in the Air Wisky system behind ORD.
Any opinion/comment posted is that of my own and not that of Southwest Airlines Co.