Midwest Airlines planning cuts to ward off bankruptcy

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The highly rated domestic carrier based out of Milwaukee, Wis., and Kansas City, Mo., announced last week that it was seeking to cut the number of its planes by as much as half—leaving it with just 20-25 Boeing 717 jets and none of the less fuel-efficient MD-80s.

The cuts don't end there: Midwest also wants to lay off hundreds of employees and get pay cuts of as much as 65% from the unionized pilots and flight attendants that will be staying on. If all the cuts go through, this will leave Midwest with about 200 pilots and about the same number of attendants. Service reductions, although not yet announced for the fall schedule, are also in the cards.

As Jaunted points out, no one want to fly on an airline that seems doomed or about to go through Chapter 11. It really does sound as if this restructuring is that one last-ditch attempt before declaring bankruptcy.

And what's likely to happen if Midwest doesn't recover? It might be an opening for the competitor AirTran to move in on Midwest's territory. And it might mean that Midwest gets swallowed up as part of a possible new Delta-Northwest airline. (Northwest owns a 47 percent share in Midwest, and Delta stands to inherit it if a planned merger goes through.) "It appears to me that the Midwest fleet is no longer needed," said one analyst from Airline Forecasts LLC, a Virginia-based consulting firm.

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