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TWA1985
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Why Were NW Orients ORD-MKE Flights So Sporadic?

Tue Oct 16, 2007 7:52 pm

Hello All,

I was looking at some Northwest Orient Timetables and came across a very interesting observation. The airline seemed to serve the Chicago - Milwaukee route on a less-that-regular basis.

In the December 18, 1984 timetable the route was served, but was not served again until November or December of 1985.
(It is important to mention that I am only going off of the timetables I have access to.. 9/84, 12/84, 4/85, 9/85, 6/86.)

It seems that the route was hit and miss with Northwest Orient. Why?

It does not make sense since ORD-MKE is one of, if not the most, profitable route in the U.S.

Can anyone explain this? Was the route over-saturated?

TWA1985
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modernArt
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RE: Why Were NW Orients ORD-MKE Flights So Sporadic?

Tue Oct 16, 2007 7:55 pm

Quoting TWA1985 (Thread starter):
It does not make sense since ORD-MKE is one of, if not the most, profitable route in the U.S.

Just curious but how so?
 
slider
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RE: Why Were NW Orients ORD-MKE Flights So Sporadic?

Tue Oct 16, 2007 7:56 pm

Quoting TWA1985 (Thread starter):
It does not make sense since ORD-MKE is one of, if not the most, profitable route in the U.S.

Says who?
 
Viscount724
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RE: Why Were NW Orients ORD-MKE Flights So Sporadic?

Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:01 pm

Quoting TWA1985 (Thread starter):
It does not make sense since ORD-MKE is one of, if not the most, profitable route in the U.S.

I highly doubt that any 58 nm route has ever ranked among the most profitiable for any carrier. Operating costs on such short sectors are very high and you are competing with cars, buses and trains.
 
MKENut
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RE: Why Were NW Orients ORD-MKE Flights So Sporadic?

Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:25 pm

Quoting TWA1985 (Thread starter):
In the December 18, 1984 timetable the route was served, but was not served again until November or December of 1985.

I think it was sporadic because of heavy holiday traffic. I flew a DC-10 from MIA-ORD-MKE back then. The plane was packed full with most the PAX getting off at ORD. The MKE leg was pretty empty if I remember right.
 
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TWA1985
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RE: Why Were NW Orients ORD-MKE Flights So Sporadic?

Tue Oct 16, 2007 10:22 pm

Quoting Slider (Reply 2):
Says who?

Sorry guys,

I could have sworn that I read that ORD-MKE was the most profitable route in the U.S., and on this forum no less. But perhaps I was thinking of something else, like highest loads, or seat mile prices, or something like that.

I am very sorry for putting in inaccurate information, I believe it is a first for me.

Quoting ModernArt (Reply 1):
Just curious but how so?

What I mean is, the airline served the route for a few months, then would drop it, before starting the service up again later. It was never continuous like say, ORD-MSN was.


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TWA1985
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RE: Why Were NW Orients ORD-MKE Flights So Sporadic?

Tue Oct 16, 2007 10:56 pm

This is what I was confusing with the profit idea, I guess I assumed that since it was the most expensive flight per mile, that it would make the most money or profit relative to its distance.
My mind and memory were just failing me here. Sorry

NYCFlyer's Thread Question:

"I've always wondered - what are the most expensive flights per mile? I know prices fluctuate all the time, so I'm not looking for exact numbers, but what flights are routinely extremely expensive?"

BOSSAN's response to the above:

"ORD-MKE $4.48/mi 66 mi $295.70 UA/AA ($20 Amtrak, 90 mins, 7x/day)"


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knope2001
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RE: Why Were NW Orients ORD-MKE Flights So Sporadic?

Tue Oct 16, 2007 11:04 pm

MKE-ORD has been cited as a market with among the highest yields out there. But that's because it is very short, high fare, and almost nobody actually flies it as a fare-paying local O&D passenger. I think that's where the "most profitable" confustion probably came in.

Anyway, now to NW's service in the market.

Northwest's reason for MKE-ORD, at least in the jet age, was primarily done to tag MKE onto an ORD trip. Routings like MKE-ORD-MIA, MKE-ORD-ATL, MKE-ORD-MSY and the like.

Now before 1982 or so, Northwest operated a very signficant operation at O'Hare, second only to MSP in the Northwest system. They had as many as 70 or so flights per day nonstop to places such as CLE, DTW, SEA, PDX, GEG, MIA, FLL, MSY, ATL, NRT, JFK, PIT, BIL, MSN, RST, HML, MSP and a few others I'm forgetting. So their MKE-ORD flights did feed some connections through ORD as well, but not primarily so. And of course back in those days there was regular interlining and joint fares, too, so if you were flying Milwaukee-Syracuse you may well have flown MKE-ORD on Northwest and ORD-SYR on American.

With the PATCO strike in August of 1981, ORD flights were trimmed back and MKE-ORD was one of the easiest markets for them to drop. In the handful of years after that they were restored on and off, but I believe only for service in markets like MKE-ORD-MIA. The ORD operation was drawing well back by then, and interline agreements were also going away. So the limited return of MKE-ORD in years like 1983/1984/1985 were just very limited revivals, primarly on a few seasonal routes which stopped in ORD.
 
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TWA1985
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RE: Why Were NW Orients ORD-MKE Flights So Sporadic?

Wed Oct 17, 2007 12:58 am

Quoting Knope2001 (Reply 7):
The ORD operation was drawing well back by then

Hi Knope2001, couldn't it be argued that Northwest Orient still had a pretty good sized operation at ORD in 1983, 1984, 1985, and 1986, up until the Republic merger?

Here is the non-stop cities served from ORD from December 1984 Timetable:


Billings, Montana
Boston, Massachusetts
Cleveland, Ohio
Detroit, Michigan
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Myers, Florida
Madison, Wisconsin
Miami, Florida
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Minneapolis, Minnesota
New Orleans, LA
New York, NY
Rochester, Minnesota
Seattle, Washington
Seoul, Korea
Tampa, Florida
Tokyo, Japan
Washington D.C.

Orlando, FL was added later in 1985 (In June, 1986 Timetable)

And with 18 cities, I would argue that ORD was still pretty big for NW.

In-fact, after looking at the Jan. 1984 Timetable and counting cities served, ORD was number two behind MSP.

It looks that the number of daily flights dropped more than the number of cities served. Sure, in the 70's the operation was much larger, with around 70 daily departures. I counted 49 Daily flights at ORD in Dec. 85, Jan. 85 (Still pretty significant compared to today with NW only serving MSP, DTW, MSP.)

So I agree that NW service at ORD declined a little bit, but I don't think I would say that it really declined until after the RC merger and the new focus on MSP, MEM, and DTW.

Thanks for all your information. It really got me digging into my collection, it was fun.

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YXwatcherMKE
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RE: Why Were NW Orients ORD-MKE Flights So Sporadi

Wed Oct 17, 2007 4:49 am

The MKE-ORD operation by NW was more of the continuation of Florida cities flights. Much like the MKE-ORD operations of today, the majority (99.98%)  bigthumbsup  of the PAX traveling between these to airports are simply connecting to/from other flights. But the fares between the two were not to expensive back then, I know this because I did it many times. It was a cheap way to fly on new birds, such as B-720's, 727's, 737 DC-9's and even DC-10's & 747's. (747 was on NW that was a MKE-ORD-MIA and back again in 1979, I remember it well, I had to take my wife along. and turn it into a weekend adventure.) But, back to topic, unlike today, the flight numbers did not stop at "hubs" and you did not have to transfer to another a/c to reach your destination so you could have the "big" A/C operating between the two points even with the short 20 minute in air time. sometime we spent more time on the ground in the a/c than in the air. Oh what am I saying the happens now, wheres my head.  Wink
I miss the 60's & 70's when you felt like a guest on the plane not cattle like today
 
milesrich
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RE: Why Were NW Orients ORD-MKE Flights So Sporadic?

Wed Oct 17, 2007 5:33 am

In the 1960's, UA, NW, NC, and EA served the ORD-MKE route with NO (North Central) having the most flights. The July 1966 OAG shows the following flights:
NC CV-440 23 flights daily
UA DC-6/6B 2 flights, 1 Viscount, and 1 Caravelle flight daily
EA L-188 1 flight daily
NW L-188 2 flights, 727 2 flights

That summer, I flew on a business trip with my dad that included ORD-MKE and MKE-ORD. We departed ORD on a NW 727 and returned on the Eastern Electra. Eastern charged more than the other airlines. Their First Class Prop (A) was 11.70 OW plus tax, Prop Coach (T) was 11.00. We flew in the back, (first class). But UA, NO, and NW charged only 9.60 for A, 10.65 for F, 9.85 for Y and 8.85 for T. For Eastern, MKE was an add-on, for UA and NW, it was more for positioning aircraft, and North Central flew most of their flights from ORD through MKE to service other Wisconsin cities.
 
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TWA1985
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RE: Why Were NW Orients ORD-MKE Flights So Sporadic?

Wed Oct 17, 2007 12:22 pm

Thanks guys!

Speaking of fares, does anyone know what the fare would have been between Chicago and Milwaukee in 1985 or so?
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RE: Why Were NW Orients ORD-MKE Flights So Sporadic?

Wed Oct 17, 2007 7:16 pm

Quoting TWA1985 (Reply 11):
Speaking of fares, does anyone know what the fare would have been between Chicago and Milwaukee in 1985 or so?

The closest date for which I can find fares in the ORD-MKE market is January 1979. One-way coach fares ranged from $22.00 for night coach to $32.00 for standard day coach fares. One-way first class fare was $35.00.

North Central/Republic operated what was essentially a shuttle service between MKE and ORD until changing to a more hub-focused operation from about late 1984 until their takeover by Northwest. I would agree that MKE-ORD-MKE for Northwest was always an "afterthought"/tag-on to their considerable services to other destinations via ORD.