Airlines 14 Jun 2007 10:56 am

Midwest Airlines Board Vote Will Lead to Purchase

by Sean Hackbarth

Midwest Airlines logo

Today marks the end of Midwest Airlines as an independent, Wisconsin company. At the company’s stockholders meeting today it’s expected that three director candidates backed by AirTran will be voted onto the board:

The election will be the highlight of today’s 10 a.m. shareholders meeting. Midwest Air shareholders will choose between a slate of incumbent directors John Bergstrom, James Boris and Frederick Stratton, or challengers John Albertine, Jeffrey Erickson and Charles Kalmbach.

AirTran announced Monday that 59.5% of Midwest Air’s shares have been tendered to the takeover offer, which was extended to Aug. 10. Given that level of support, AirTran executives expect to see their three nominees elected to the board. Analysts also believe that outcome is likely.

The importance of the election is that Albertine, Erickson and Kalmbach “will bring a fresh perspective to the debate” on whether Midwest Air should enter into sale talks with AirTran, said Kevin Healy, AirTran vice president of planning.

Midwest lost a lot of sympathy when they annouced they were replaced a good portion of their two-across seating for typical three-across in order to increase revenues. They’ve not created two classes of seating making the airline little different from potential buyer AirTran. Romantic notions of “saving the cookie” lose their punch when Midwest ditches their primary market distinction.

AirTran has taken a slow and steady approach in its bid to acquire Midwest. Slowly but surely they are winning over stockholders who see a combined company in a better position to compete. Midwest reinforced that notion Tuesday when they announced they wouldn’t meet analysts’ expectations. Their growth strategy isn’t going as well as Midwest hoped.

When AirTran does buy Midwest the state will lose a good corporate citizen. I hope we gain more flights to more locations at a better price.

Midwest Board Vote Today”

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