Midwest Express Airlines (Milwaukee General Mitchell) announced that it has ended its partnership with Elite Airways (7Q, Portland Int'l Jetport), the regional operator which was planned to provide charter capacity for the virtual carrier. According to a press release issued by Midwest Express on March 9, it has filed a lawsuit against its former partner because Elite allegedly breached its agreement.

According to lawsuit papers filed in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court and seen by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Midwest Express decided to terminate its partnership with Maine-based Elite on December 31, 2019. Within its agreement with Elite, Midwest Express paid a deposit, which should have been returned if either party ended the partnership. To date, Elite has allegedly not returned all of the deposit, despite multiple demands from Midwest Express, with the outstanding sum believed to be around USD150,000.

The two companies entered into a partnership on July 31 last year, which envisaged Midwest Express beginning operations using Elite aircraft, while the former continued the process of gaining its own Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and aircraft. The intended destinations from Milwaukee General Mitchell were Cincinnati Int'l, Omaha Eppley and Grand Rapids, MI - all of which are presently unserved from the Wisconsin airport. Having originally intended to launch operations in late 2019 or early 2020, a new date has not been set for the start of services.

Elite would have flown a mixture of its CRJ200 and CRJ700 regional jets under the Midwest Express brand. According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Elite currently operates one CRJ100(ER), five CRJ200(ER)s, two -(LR)s, and five CRJ700(ER)s.

Although Midwest Express is discontinuing its partnership, the airline’s President Greg Aretakis says its plan continues to move forward with a goal of delivering non-stop flights with exceptional customer service. “We are in substantial discussions with other airline operators to bring back non-stop service to Milwaukee. We have received a tremendous amount of support from the business community and former passengers who tell us that they need better options for air travel in Milwaukee, and we intend to deliver it.” While it begins the search for a new airline partner, Midwest Express is also continuing its fundraising efforts.

Elite was contacted for comment on the lawsuit by ch-aviation and said: "Elite Airways declines to comment at this time."

Editorial Comment: Updated on March 16 with comment from Elite Airways. - 16.03.2020 - 08:36 UTC