Before 2009, Southwest Airlines didn't even fly out of General Mitchell International Airport.
But by 2017, the Dallas-based airline held a 43 percent market share at Milwaukee's airport, and with 23 direct flight destinations, has a veritable stranglehold on the market. When Ryan Green, Southwest's vice president and chief marketing officer, addressed the Greater Milwaukee Committee Monday, he made it clear that the airline has prioritized the Milwaukee market and hopes to continue its regional dominance.
"I want to be clear with you all," Green said. "We want to be Milwaukee's hometown airline. It's really important to us for you all to consider us your hometown carrier. That is why we do the things that we do to not only serve the market, and hopefully do so profitably, but also to be really ingrained and be a deep part of the community."
That comment is particularly noteworthy given that in late May, Midwest Express, formerly known as "Milwaukee's hometown airline," filed a private stock offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission, signaling its intentions to return service to General Mitchell International Airport in the coming years.
Green also referenced Midwest directly during his Monday comments.
"I started coming to Milwaukee a few years ago, and one of the things that I heard a lot about was a chocolate chip cookie," Green said, alluding to Midwest's signature in-flight snack. "It was a beloved chocolate chip cookie, and all that came with Midwest."
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