Mitchell hit hard by airline cutbacks

CREATED May. 14, 2013

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  • Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Image by Rick Wood

MILWAUKEE - It's a lot harder to find a direct flight out of Milwaukee today.  A new study from MIT finds Mitchell International lost nearly 37 percent of its flights between 2007 and 2012.

We're not alone.  The study finds the average mid-sized airport like Mitchell lost of quarter of its flights.

In addition, we were unique in 2007.  We still had Midwest Airlines at that time.  We have since lost that and Frontier, which is what Midwest became, pulled up stakes.

We're unlikely to get back to the Midwest days.  But there are opportunities for Milwaukee.

"I think our fortunes are really tied to what happens in Chicago," Said Jay Sorensen, an airline industry expert who runs the Ideaworks company in Shorewood.

Midway is landlocked and can't add flights.  O'Hare is also likely at or near its capacity. 

"Milwaukee is positioned very well to take the pressure off," Sorensen said.

Who would expand here?  It's unlikely you'll see United, American or Delta add a lot of flights.  American and United have major hubs at O'Hare.  Delta has hubs nearby in Minneapolis and Detroit.

Sorensen notes Southwest, which recetly expanded in to Milwaukee, is not at O'Hare.  "So I think Milwaukee and Midway are very interesting points for them because it stradles O'Hare," Sorensen said.

In addition, Sorensen says he wouldn't be suprised to see an airlines like Jet Blue or even Alaska Airlines come to Milwaukee.