Midwest Airlines

Investors have put together the first round of funds toward an effort to revive Midwest Airlines, the Oak Creek-based airline that had its last flight about seven years ago when the brand was folded into Frontier Airlines.

The push to bring back Midwest Express Airlines has taken off, and could be flying high by 2020, a spokeswoman says.

Investors have pumped the first round of funds into a plan to revive the former Oak Creek air carrier, known for its comfortable seats and warm chocolate chip cookies.

So far, $750,000 has been raised from two unnamed investors, according to a report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Our goal is to bring back Midwest Express — the brand and all the brand elements that made it so popular the first time around,” said Christine Williams, spokeswoman for the company’s three officers. “This is just the first step in a series of steps we need to take.”

Midwest Express’ roots date back to 1948, when Kimberly Clark — now based in Texas but then headquartered in Neenah — started flying its executives to the company’s paper mills. In 1984, it was spun off into a passenger airline that expanded nationwide until financial problems hit in the early 2000s. Midwest was purchased by Republic Airways Holdings in 2009, merged into Frontier Airlines shortly after, and later lost its brand identity.

Greg Aretakis, a former vice president with Midwest Express and Frontier, is leading the charge to re-establish Midwest and is president of the new company. Aretakis and his partners have talked to business and government leaders in Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay to find out what they would like from the airline, Williams said.

“We’ve canvassed a lot of territory to understand where there are business needs,” she said. “When you talk to former customers about the brand, there’s a lot of fondness. People remember that level of service and that’s what we’re looking to do, to bring that back.”

The airline would be based in Milwaukee, with plans to offer nonstop service to both business and leisure travelers. Williams would not say, at this point, how many cities might be served. That will be “dictated by equipment,” she said.

Williams said Midwest Express could have planes in the air as soon as 2020.

“We’re looking at aggressively getting this going as quickly as we can. We would love to have something in the next one to two years, at the most,” she said.

The way to do that will likely be by buying a small, existing airline, with just a small number of planes. “The other component is having key staff in place. We’ve been working on both,” she said.

She declined to say how much money investors will need to get Midwest Express going.

But one thing is certain: There will be cookies. “Oh, yes, chocolate chip cookies,” she said.

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Judy Newman is a business reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.