Midwest Airlines today announced major changes to its flight schedule as part of its restructuring "to adapt to extraordinarily high fuel prices."
The Milwaukee-based airline said the new schedule, which takes effect Sept. 8, retains service to 32 cities, including both coasts.
"From Kansas City, we will continue to serve as an important resource for the business community, with flights to key East and West Coast cities," said Timothy E. Hoeksema, chairman and chief executive officer. "While there will be adjustments to frequency in some of these markets, we will continue to offer convenient service and the unparalleled customer service our passengers expect from us."
Midwest will no longer fly to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Ft. Myers, Fla., or San Diego. Service to Los Angeles and Seattle/Tacoma will now be offered via Kansas City year-round, in the same way the airline currently offers service to San Francisco. Service on the Milwaukee-Los Angeles and Milwaukee-Seattle/Tacoma routes will be one-stop in both directions, requiring no change of aircraft for passengers.
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Nonstop service between Kansas City and Orlando will be discontinued, but service will continue to be available via Milwaukee during peak travel months. Midwest will not fly to Orlando from Sept. 8 through Oct. 20. Service will resume Oct. 21 through April 30.
Midwest will discontinue its nonstop Kansas City-to-Madison, Wis. route, but will continue to offer the service via Milwaukee. The airline also will discontinue service to eight airports currently served by its Midwest Connect regional jet service: Baltimore; Hartford, Conn.; Louisville, Ky.; Muskegon, Mich.; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; St. Louis; San Antonio; and Wausau/Stevens Point, Wis.
The schedule changes are a major component of Midwest's overall restructuring plan, necessitated by record fuel prices and the company's previously announced decision to ground its MD-80 fleet.
Passengers affected by route or schedule changes will be notified by Midwest for tickets purchased from Midwest via its reservations center or Web site or by their travel agency.
Customers holding tickets for flights to any of the eliminated cities or routes are encouraged to visit the airline's Web site, midwestairlines.com, and click "View/Change Your Reservations," where they will be able to view their reservation and request a full refund online. Customers also may call the reservations center at 866-613-1390, but long hold times are possible, the airline says.
Additionally, Midwest said it is expanding its codeshare agreement with Northwest Airlines to include service to more than 100 new city pairs. The Midwest Airlines code will be offered on Northwest-operated routes to destinations beyond Northwest's hubs at Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Memphis throughout the United States.
Under the agreement, passengers can book their entire flight on a single ticket, with all segments earning mileage credit in either the Midwest Miles or Northwest WorldPerks frequent flyer programs. The new city options will be announced and added to Midwest's schedule throughout July for travel beginning late in the month.
Earlier phases of the codeshare agreement included service from Indianapolis to 14 cities throughout the country, service from major West Coast cities to points in Hawaii and the Northwest code on a number of Midwest-operated flights. The codeshare is expected to eventually add hundreds of new city pairs and flight options for travelers, greatly expanding the networks of both airlines.
With the changes, Midwest will conintue to fly to the following cities as part of its core route structure:Atlanta, Boston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York La Guardia, Omaha, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Tampa and Washington, D.C.
As previously announced, Midwest is grounding its MD-80s, so flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle/Tacoma will be operated on Boeing 717 aircraft via Kansas City.
The following destinations will continue to be served nonstop from Kansas City: Boston, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York LaGuardia, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma and Washington, D.C.
With the changes, Midwest is eliminating most year-round service to Florida.
"Longer flights to leisure market destinations are difficult to justify economically for Midwest and the rest of the industry," the airline said in a press release. "We realize that this will create complications for our customers with existing and future vacation plans for Florida."
Customers whose upcoming travel plans are affected by the changes will have the option through Midwest of rebooking on a different Midwest flight, rebooking on another airline, using the value of any purchased tickets to buy tickets to a different Midwest destination or receiving a full refund.