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Airtran Article In MKE Paper

Fri Jun 20, 2003 12:42 am

AirTran plans to add 50 new planes
Discount airline has prospered since Sept. 11
Last Updated: June 19, 2003
AirTran Airways will more than double the size of its airplane fleet over the next five years at a cost of more than $2 billion, a company executive said Wednesday.

The Orlando, Fla., airline expects to decide by late summer whether the addition of as many as 100 airplanes will consist of Boeing 737s or Airbus A319s, said AirTran marketing director Tad Hutcheson.

AirTran held a press conference at Mitchell International Airport to discuss its non-stop service between Milwaukee and Baltimore, which began this month. Airline officials also discussed results of their first year of business in Milwaukee, which it marked this week.

In the past 12 months, AirTran has flown more than 200,000 passengers in, out and through Milwaukee, said Barry Bateman, airport executive director.

About 50% of the airline's passengers have been business travelers, Hutcheson added.

"It has been a perfect mix for us, especially given that we weren't sure what to expect," he said. Typically, business travelers are identified through purchases of last-minute, more expensive plane tickets. Much of AirTran's overall business comes from leisure travelers, who book the cheapest fares well in advance of their trips.

About 20% of AirTran's Milwaukee passengers have come from northern Illinois, a market that other airlines here also have been trying to tap.

"Typically, these people work for a Chicago company and live in the northern suburbs," Hutcheson said. "They once considered Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports to be their only flight options, but now they are driving to Mitchell."

AirTran is edging closer to a decision to acquire Boeing 737s or Airbus A319s over the next five years, a move that could more than double the airline's fleet of 70 planes.

AirTran would place a firm order for 50 planes, either Boeing or Airbus, with an option to acquire 50 more, Hutcheson said. The first plane would be delivered about a year from now, with the remaining planes delivered at the rate of about one a month up to five years.

AirTran's current fleet is dominated by new Boeing 717s, which seat 105 in coach class, 12 in business class and have a flight range of about 1,500 miles. The airline wants bigger planes that can fly longer distances, especially to the West Coast, Hutcheson said.

"We want the flexibility to fly anywhere," he said.

AirTran spent about $750,000 in advertising in its first year in Milwaukee, including ads placed in northern Illinois, Madison and the Fox Valley.

That is fairly typical for a new market, and the spending will taper off now that AirTran is better established here, Hutcheson said.

AirTran is well-known for its discount fares and competitive nature. It is one of a handful of airlines that have turned a profit since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and it has expanded its network even as other airlines have retrenched.

"We like to enter markets where airline passengers have been overcharged and underserved, and we still believe that Milwaukee is underserved," Hutcheson said.

The airline's overall business is up about 25% compared with a year ago, Hutcheson said.

AirTran has been sending more business to Appleton-based Air Wisconsin, which it uses for regional flights. By the end of the year, Air Wisconsin will put another four regional jets into service for AirTran, up from six planes it flies now as AirTran JetConnect.

Air Wisconsin's 50-seat regional jets fly out of Atlanta to other cities, including Milwaukee; Savannah, Ga.; Greensboro, N.C.; and Pensacola, Fla.

Air Wisconsin has been effective on short-haul routes and destinations that don't have enough passengers to fill Boeing 717s, Hutcheson said.

From the June 19, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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RE: Airtran Article In MKE Paper

Fri Jun 20, 2003 12:44 am

Press Release Source: Midwest Airlines

Midwest Airlines Announces Expansion of Low-Fare Service
Thursday June 19, 11:00 am ET

MILWAUKEE, June 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Midwest Airlines today announced it is expanding its new Midwest Airlines Saver Service to three additional destinations -- Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers and Tampa, Florida.

Midwest Airlines Saver Service features low fares to leisure destinations. All flights are aboard MD-80 aircraft, with seating arranged in a two-by-three configuration and generous legroom for extra passenger comfort. Onboard service includes complimentary soft drinks, packaged snacks and baked-onboard chocolate chip cookies on most flights, with buy-onboard meals available for purchase.

The expansion coincides with the November resumption of Midwest's popular nonstop seasonal service to the three cities. Service will operate weekends only between November 22 and December 14, 2003; daily service will be offered between December 18, 2003 and April 25, 2004. Passengers can now book and purchase tickets for these Florida destinations.

In addition to the seasonal service to Florida, Midwest Airlines offers year-round service between Milwaukee and Orlando -- twice daily and increasing to three flights daily on October 1.

Schedules, including a downloadable timetable, and fares for Midwest's seasonal service and all of the airline's destinations are available at . For reservations, visit .

Midwest Airlines features nonstop jet service to major destinations throughout the United States. Skyway Airlines, Inc. - its wholly owned subsidiary - operates Midwest Connect, which offers connections to Midwest Airlines as well as point-to-point service between select markets on regional jet and turboprop aircraft. Together, the airlines offer service to 50 cities. More information is available at .

Source: Midwest Airlines
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RE: Airtran Article In MKE Paper

Fri Jun 20, 2003 1:16 am

Ah, you gotta love the smell of competition.  Smile
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RE: Airtran Article In MKE Paper

Fri Jun 20, 2003 1:20 am

Definately. I take it from this report that there will be no order for additional 717s if Boeing gets the nod for 737NGs?
"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
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RE: Airtran Article In MKE Paper

Fri Jun 20, 2003 1:56 am

Hutcheson is right that MKE is still underserved. With Midwest setting up a low-fare division, ATA connection established, and AirTran up to eight dailies, change is underway at MKE. But MKE still has no nonstop low-fare service to New York, LA Basin, Bay Area, or Las Vegas, all of which could probably easily support such service. An AM and PM 717 to BOS would probably draw well too.

And if MKE could plug into Southwest's hubs (yes, that's what BWI, PHX, LAS are even if they don't call them that), the airport would probably see substantial enplanement growth. MKE's LCC catchment area is probably four or five million in an arc stretching from Green Bay to Madison to North Chicagoland.

Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
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RE: Airtran Article In MKE Paper

Fri Jun 20, 2003 2:35 am

I think we may still order more 717s. How much, well....I guess we have to wait for the announcement.
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RE: Airtran Article In MKE Paper

Fri Jun 20, 2003 3:36 am

I expect that as Midwest Express gives way to Midwest Airlines, you'll see more "Saver Service" to new cities, so there may soon be LCC coverage of MKE-LGA/EWR/JFK.

As for AirTran, I'm glad to finally have some real numbers. 50+50, huh? That sounds pretty good, but I hope they'll include a 25+25 or 50+50 order for 717s, too.

If they go with the 73G, though, that's great news for Boeing. If not, then Airbus will cement its current leadership in the market, especially with such a Boeing-friendly company like AirTran.
Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
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RE: Airtran Article In MKE Paper

Fri Jun 20, 2003 8:54 am

I could not agree more with Hutcheson and DCA-ROCguy. MKE is one of the most under-served and under-rated airports in the nation. MKE could easily support Southwest and JetBlue. I think the presence of Midwest Saver Service, Air Tran, and Frontier will prove that there is a huge market for low fare service from MKE.

I think JetBlue would do great if they flew 3 flights a day between MKE-JFK. Southwest should do 2 flights a day between MKE-LAS and MKE-BWI.

Going to be very interesting to see what happens at MKE in the next few months!
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RE: Airtran Article In MKE Paper

Sat Jun 28, 2003 5:49 am

But MKE still has no nonstop low-fare service to New York, LA Basin, Bay Area, or Las Vegas

You've gotta remember the new NW nonstops from MKE to LGA, LAX, LAS, BOS, DCA, MCO though.

I do agree that MKE is underserved (of course I would, I live here Big grin)

There are a few majors that don't take MKE that seriously (AA, UA) that could probably do OK in MKE. I wouldn't be surprised to see UA mainline DEN-MKE right around the time Frontier starts service. UA used to run limited mainline service ORD-MKE that could probably be returned. If that was returned, AA would probably follow up. DFW-MKE is a bit long for AEagle service but I've heard some iffy things about the loads on that route. I flew that route last week though and it was pretty full.

I doubt CO will start mainline service to MKE as they already have NWA as a major presence here. I also doubt US will bring mainline back just because they are scaling back their non-east coast presence since they have UA with Star for codeshares.

[Edited 2003-06-27 22:55:26]

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