MIAMI – Today in Aviation, the first incarnation of Midway Airlines (ML) ceased operations in 1991. The carrier, based at Chicago’s Midway Airport (MDW), was established in 1976.
At the time MDW had lost nearly all of its scheduled flights to O’Hare International Airport (ORD). The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 allowed ML to commence operations on October 31, 1979.
Its initial fleet consisted of three ex-TWA Douglas DC-9s, with five more examples added a year later. Routes to Cleveland (CLE), Detroit (DTW), and Kansas City (MCI) were quickly followed by New York (LGA) and Washington (DCA).
As well as its business-orientated routes, ML also expanded its leisure operation, expanding into the Caribbean in 1984 following the purchase of Air Florida’s (AF) assets in 1984.
The carrier continued to grow in the mid-1980s under the tenure of CEO David R. Hinson. By 1988, ML had grown to become the largest operator at MDW, with 116 flights per day. A further 75 flights per day were operated by its Midway Connection subsidiary, established in 1986 as a regional affiliate.
In 1989, the airline added a base at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), costing US$200m to establish. It lasted less than a year, eventually being sold off to US Airways (US) for US$67.5m. This finical loss plus rising fuel prices brought about by the Gulf War led ML to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 1991.
Despite an attempt to sell the carrier to Northwest Airlines (NW) the deal fell through and ML was grounded after 15 years of service.
Featured image: ML’s fleet grew to include 14 Boeing 737-200s, 19 McDonnell Douglas MD-80s and 64 DC-9s. (Photo: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)