It certainly appears that former sleepy (and expensive) Milwaukee is set to become the uber-low fare battle ground this fall when Southwest begins service. Midwest Airlines has long dominated MKE but Airtran (followed a failed merger proposal) has aggressively added service in the past few months. Midwest has reduced flights and switched to smaller regional jets on many routes as they have attempted to defend their home turf.
But starting November 1st, the real fun will begin when Southwest launches 12 daily flights nearly all of which are already flown by Midwest. Southwest will even start service between Kansas City and Milwaukee - both important focus cities for Midwest. Rounding out the new service will be 3 daily flights to BWI, two to Vegas and Orlando and a single flight each to Tampa and Phoenix.
Airtran should be just fine. After all, they already compete head to head with Southwest in Baltimore on numerous routes. Midwest, however, has already pulled back many flights and returned most of their 717s - with many flight now being operated by Republic Airlines regional jets. And this afternoon, Republic announced they were actually buying Midwest Airlines - their second purchase of a smallish regional airline in as many days. (Republic is the new proud owner of Frontier Airlines but that is a whole other discussion) It is hard to see how Milwaukee can support not only this much service but also three low-fare airlines (which Midwest isn't really used to being) battling over many of the same routes.
We love the cookies on Midwest - we just worry how long we'll be able to enjoy them....