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Former Midwest Airlines CEO hopeful for more non-stop flights in Milwaukee

Posted at 6:49 PM, Oct 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-31 19:49:05-04

The former CEO of Midwest Airlines is hoping to help put Milwaukee back on the map for air travelers. 

OneJet is an airline based out of Pittsburgh that focuses on bringing non-stop flights to mid-size cities like Milwaukee. Tuesday, they announced two new destinations for Milwaukee travelers with non-stop flights to Omaha and Columbus to start Nov. 1.

The company is supported by Tim Hoeksema, the former CEO of Midwest Airlines. 

Hoeksema's departure from the airline industry was less than ideal when Midwest merged with Frontier Airlines in 2009. He's a Milwaukee homer and the merger left area residents with fewer travel options. 

"I'm excited to be a little part of Milwaukee trying to build back that non-stop service it's lost," Hoeksema said. "Looking at the consolidation in the airline industry today, there are huge gaps in the marketplace in some of the smaller markets that don't have non-stop service."

"Tim built, over 30 years, one of the most beloved brands in airline history," said Matthew Maguire, CEO of OneJet. "He built it around operation excellence and fantastic customer service. So, for us as a young company to have a guy with Tim's background get involved with us, I think it's going to be an important factor to our success in Milwaukee."

Maguire is encouraged to have Hoeksema on board. While OneJet is focused on the business traveler, they both think this is just the beginning for air travel in Milwaukee. 

"When we look at Milwaukee," Maguire said. "We see at least another ten to 12 routes out of here. Non-stop routes which make really good sense for us. We expect to continue to expand throughout 2018 and 2019 in Milwaukee."

"I hope we see growth in non-stop service," Hoeksema said. "As you look at Foxconn and business growth around here, it's important non-stop service is there. This will make a lot more cities accessible non-stop than were before."

But as for a comeback of warm chocolate chip cookies and extra leg room with Midwest Airlines? There were no hints towards that from Hoeksema. 

"Midwest was very good for 25 years," Hoeksema said. "It's a different time and different era. What happened to the industry makes OneJet a perfect fit for what's going on."

Maguire says the flights are affordable, roughly $250 one way for some flights. Non-stop flights to Omaha and Columbus out of Milwaukee start Nov. 1.