Midway Airlines to become regional carrier of US Airways under agreement

Thursday, July 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ Midway Airlines Corp., which filed for bankruptcy last year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, has signed a letter of intent to become a part of US Airways.

US Airways said late Wednesday that Midway will operate as part of its US Airways Express, flying a fleet of regional jets beginning in October.

The eight-year agreement is subject to several conditions, including Midway's ability to secure an additional $5 million in capital, acquiring additional planes and reaching agreements with its various unions.

Midway said that it will eliminate the rest of its fleet of six Boeing 737 aircraft, and lay off 400 workers.

In a brief news conference just after midnight Thursday, Midway CEO and President Robert Ferguson said he hoped to eventually hire back at least two-thirds of the laid-off employees.

Midway had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August 2001, citing a drop in number of passengers. At the time, the Morrisville-based carrier listed assets of $318 million and debts of $232 million.

Midway continued flying on a reduced schedule but stopped operations altogether after Sept. 11. It resumed flying Dec. 19 after receiving a $12.5 million grant from the federal airline bailout program.

''Ultimately in business you have to make a buck, and we were unsuccessful in doing that,'' Ferguson said.

He estimated that his airline was losing $1 million to $1.5 million a month since resuming operations.

US Airways has said the addition of regional flights is part of its reorganization plan, which includes a $1 billion federally guaranteed loan and a nearly equal sum in wage and benefit concessions from pilots, flight attendants and other workers.

As part of the arrangement with Midway, US Airways will provide standby transportation to passengers currently holding Midway tickets during the suspension of Midway's operations and transition.

US Airways, based in Arlington, Va., also will implement a program to allow Midway Airlines' frequent fliers to convert their credits for future use on US Airways and partner carriers upon completion of the agreement.

Ferguson added that the arrangement between the two airlines is contingent upon approval by the bankruptcy court.