With the growth of our region comes significant opportunity. This opportunity can be seen and celebrated in the business community, from a public perspective, and on a national level. At the June 11 monthly membership meeting, we heard from representatives in each of these areas, specifically as it relates to air travel and the impact it has on our economy. We were joined by new GMC member Alan Yeung, Director of U.S. Strategic Initiatives for Foxconn; Chris Abele, Milwaukee County Executive; and Ryan Green, Vice President and Chief Marketing Office for Southwest Airlines to hear how this opportunity is reflecting directly on the growth of General Mitchell International Airport and air travel within our region.
General Mitchell International Airport, also known as MKE, is a true public/private partnership. Being funded from passenger fees, airport parking lots, concession revenues and airline rental fees, rather than tax dollars, the airport is continuously striving to ensure MKE is the first choice for business and cargo transportation. Capable of serving the world’s largest aircraft, General Mitchell is already a great asset to our region’s economy and transportation needs. With much investment happening in Milwaukee, including that of Southwest Airlines and corporations like Foxconn, General Mitchell is experiencing much opportunity for continued growth.
In 1971, Southwest Airlines started operations in Dallas, TX with three aircraft servicing three different cities in Texas. Today, they serve over 100 cities and occupy 43% of the market share in Milwaukee. Compared to peer markets, Milwaukee has the highest number of non-stop flights, all while being slightly smaller than these peers. But why have they made such a big investment after serving Milwaukee for less than 10 years? According to Ryan Green, their commitment to being Milwaukee’s hometown airline is all related to the growth they are experiencing with and from our community.
We can all imagine there will be an influx of business and cargo air travel, perhaps even internationally, when Foxconn has created its 13,000 jobs. But what we maybe don’t realize is that the current $19M in economic impact from a mainline airline flight (operating daily over the course of a year) has significant opportunity for growth. With the addition of many new corporations in Milwaukee, specifically along the I-94 corridor, we can anticipate an uptick in the amount of support needed for cargo shipments. With the continuous support and investment from airlines like Southwest, and the ability of the airport to expand its cargo facilities and services, accommodating the growth is something MKE is prepped for.