Air Wisconsin, a UAL United Express partner, has expressed some confusion with regard to a request by United Airlines to its partners that they submit bids for 70-seat regional jet service within the United Express system.
A pair of long-awaited pilot contracts finally reached the ratification stage when Appleton, Wis.-based United Express affiliate Air Wisconsin and Alaska Airlines subsidiary Horizon Air each closed collective-bargaining negotiations with their respective pilot unions.
A new 11-year code-share contract between Air Wisconsin and United Airlines went into full effect last month, after a U.S. bankruptcy court approved the terms of an MOU giving the Appleton, Wis.-based regional airline the authority to fly up to 17 more fifty-seat Bombardier CRJs as United Express. The deal also allows Air Wisconsin to continue United Express operations with its 17 BAe 146s through 2005.
Air Wisconsin last month placed a firm order for six more 50-passenger Bombardier CRJ200s to serve its recently inaugurated code-share relationship with Orlando, Fla.-based AirTran Airways. The transaction, valued at $140 million, represents the partial conversion of a conditional order for 26 of the Canadian jets. It increases the size of the Appleton, Wis.-based airline’s order book to 64 airplanes, 27 of which it has already accepted.
The World Trade Organization ruled that $1.13 billion in low-interest loans issued through Canada’s Export Development Corp. to support the sale of 51 Canadair Regional Jets to Appleton, Wis.-based Air Wisconsin constitutes an illegal government subsidy. An interim WTO report, issued last month in response to a formal protest by the government of Brazil, calls for the withdrawal of the loans.
United Airlines has asked for requests for proposal (RFP) from 10 regional airlines to fly up to 70 regional jets on routes now controlled by Appleton, Wis.-based Air Wisconsin. The 10 airlines include all of United’s existing partners, as well as Independence Air–the former United Express carrier turned low-fare competitor to UAL at Washington Dulles and Chicago O’Hare Airports.
A bankruptcy court judge has approved a deal between Air Wisconsin and US Airways that will see the Appleton, Wis.-based regional take an equity stake in the bankrupt major airline and fly up to 70 regional jets as US Airways Express. The arrangement centers on a $125 million loan from Air Wisconsin’s investment arm, Eastshore Aviation, that will convert to equity after US Airways’ planned emergence from bankruptcy this summer.
Last month’s decision by United Airlines to cut loose Air Wisconsin Airline Corp. (AWAC) from its stable of regional affiliates might not have come as a surprise to Geoff Crowley and company, but the drawn-out divorce will no doubt leave a wound that might take more than the comfort of a new partner to fully heal.
Air Wisconsin Airlines plans to close its Appleton maintenance facility and move its 105 jobs to other facilities by next May. The decision follows Air Wisconsin’s loss of United Airlines flying from Outagamie County Regional Airport, its headquarters for the past 40 years.
US Airways’ plans for new code-share partner Air Wisconsin finally crystallized last month, when the major airline loaded new schedules showing the Appleton, Wis.-based regional’s Bombardier CRJ200s on a host of routes from Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C.