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This article is about the regional airline based in Wichita, KS. For the article regarding the renamed Midwest Express, see Midwest Airlines.
Air Midwest
Founded May 1965 (as Aviation Services)
Commenced operations April 1967
Ceased operations June 2008
Hubs Kansas City International Airport
Frequent flyer program MesaMax
Fleet size 11
Destinations 28
Parent company Mesa Air Group, Inc.
Headquarters 2230 Air Cargo Rd, Wichita, Kansas, United States
Key people Greg Stephens (President)
1970's Logo

Air Midwest, Inc., was a Federal Aviation Administration Part 121 certificated air carrier operating under air carrier certificate number AMWA510A issued on May 15, 1965. It was headquartered in Wichita, Kansas,[1] United States, and was a subsidiary of Mesa Air Group. It operated flights as US Airways Express, including a code share with Midwest Airlines, and as Mesa Airlines. It served 28 cities in 12 states.



Air Midwest was founded in Wichita, Kansas, in May 1965 by Gary Adamson as Aviation Services, Inc. Using a single Cessna 206, Adamson transported human remains for area mortuaries. Later, Aviation Services held out for charter and in 1967 began scheduled service flying between Wichita and Salina.

As Frontier Airlines withdrew from the western Kansas market in 1968, Aviation Services moved in to assume air service. In 1969, it changed its name to Air Midwest and ordered Beech 99 aircraft to keep up with its expansion.

By 1978, it was operating a fleet of 10 Metroliners and was expanding from Kansas and into New Mexico, Iowa, and Nebraska. Mesa Air Group acquired Air Midwest in 1991.[2]

In 1985, Air Midwest merged with Scheduled Skyways, a Fayetteville, Arkansas, based air carrier, in hopes of gaining a codeshare to feed Republic Airlines' Memphis hub. Air Midwest would expand by acquiring routes in Arkansas to complement its existing routes in the midwest. Both carriers operated Metros, and Air Midwest had an opportunity to win a codeshare with Republic.

Republic picked a different air carrier to feed its Memphis hub. Air Midwest discovered many hidden problems with the poorly neglected aircraft of Scheduled Skyways, that forced it to perform the required maintenance to keep the aircraft flying. The next few years after the merger with Scheduled Skyways pushed Air Midwest to the verge of bankruptcy.

Although Air Midwest was unsuccessful in gaining a codeshare with Republic through the Scheduled Skyways merger, it was able to acquire codeshare agreements with Ozark Air Lines as Ozark Midwest, Eastern Air Lines as Eastern Air Midwest Express, and American Airlines as American Eagle Airlines in 1985.

Continuing money problems forced Air Midwest to sell its Nashville hub and Saab 340 aircraft to American in 1987. TWA acquired Ozark in 1986 and forced Air Midwest to surrender some of its St Louis routes because TWA already had a code share partner in St Louis, Resort Air (today's Trans States Airlines).

Eastern abruptly pulled out of Kansas City leaving Air Midwest no one to feed. Air Midwest quickly negotiated a codeshare agreement with Braniff (1983-1990), just in time for the second incarnation of Braniff to go bankrupt.

In 1990, Air Midwest negotiated a codeshare agreement with USAir.

On July 12, 1991, Air Midwest published a message to all employees, "St. Louis hub sold to TransStates, all else to Mesa."


Operations under Mesa Air Group

From 1991 until 1997, Air Midwest operated 12 Beechcraft 1900s flying from its Kansas City hub as USAir Express. In 1997, Mesa Air Group underwent a corporate reorganization: Mesa Airline's FloridaGulf, Liberty Express, and Independent divisions were merged into Air Midwest.

Air Midwest operated services for Essential Air Service and also had aircraft operating as US Airways Express under an agreement with US Airways in Phoenix and in independent operations as Mesa Airlines brand and division out of Albuquerque and Dallas/Fort Worth. Air Midwest also operated as US Airways Express from a hub in Kansas City, with smaller operations at Phoenix, Charlotte, Chicago Midway Airport, Dallas and Omaha, Nebraska.

On January 8, 2003, Air Midwest had its first fatal accident when Air Midwest Flight 5481 operating as US Airways Express and departing out of Charlotte for Greenville-Spartanburg crashed 37 seconds after takeoff. All 19 passengers and two crewmembers were killed in the accident.

For a period of three weeks in August 2006, Air Midwest operated as Delta Connection, flying three Beechcraft 1900D from John F. Kennedy Airport to Providence, RI, and Windsor Locks, Connecticut, as a stop-gap measure for Freedom Airlines, another subsidiary of Mesa Air Group, until it was relieved by Chautauqua Airlines.

On February 1, 2007, Air Midwest began operations at Chicago Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, to three Illinois airports: Decatur, Marion, and Quincy. However, just nine months after beginning this service, Mesa Airlines announced that Air Midwest would end all service from Illinois on November 9, 2007.

In May 2007, Air Midwest requested that the FAA allow it to withdraw service from the regional airport in Vernal, Utah, as soon as a replacement carrier was approved. On Oct. 4, 2007, the federal Department of Transportation announced that Great Lakes Airlines would replace Air Midwest as the Essential Air Service carrier at the Utah airports in Vernal and Moab. At the same time, the Department of Transportation announced that SkyWest Airlines would replace Air Midwest as the Essential Air Service carrier at Cedar City.

A report published in The Wall Street Journal on January 14, 2008, included a statement from Mesa CEO Jonathan G. Ornstein that the company had decided to shut down Air Midwest, citing significant losses stemming from increased maintenance and fuel costs. All cities served by Air Midwest received notices of intention to end service, except for Prescott and Kingman, Arizona.[3] Mesa later announced plans to completely shut down the Air Midwest subsidiary, with all services to be terminated by June 30, 2008.[4] At the time of its shutdown, there were 20 airplanes in service, down from a high of 118.

Incidents and accidents


As of February 2008, Air Midwest had 20 aircraft in its fleet consisting of:

Air Midwest Fleet
Aircraft Total Passengers Routes
Beechcraft 1900D 11 19 All

Previous aircraft operated by Air Midwest include the Cessna 402, Beech 99, Metroliner, Jetstream 31, Saab 340 and the Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia.


MesaMax applies to Mesa Airlines flights that were operated by Air Midwest. It consisted of a card, upon which flights were recorded with a stamp. Once 16 stamps had been recorded, the card could have been redeemed for a single round-trip ticket on Mesa Airlines flights.


External links


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