So much for private ownership as the answer. For a long time, critics said that airlines would suffer as long as they had short-term perspectives imposed upon them by short-term owners - mainly investors, pension funds, widows, orphans and the like. If they didn't have to meets the public every 90 days and tell it their most intimate secrets, airlines could engage in longer-term planning, blahblahblah. You know the rap.
Well, maybe the example of Midwest Airlines disproves the thesis. Much praised and much liked by the flying public, the Milwaukee-based carrier went private at the beginning of the year when private equity in the form of The Texas Pacific Group (TPG) and former Midwest rival Northwest Airlines bought out the carrier. Now though Midwest is going through the writhing maneuvers that we have learned are the sure signs of disaster.
On Monday, it said it would lay off 40% (yes, that's 40) of its non-nunion workforce while it still tried to get concessions from ALPA and AFA; late last week, its marketing vice president, Scott Dickson, said he was leaving and its pilots are now saying that Midwest is going to file for Chapter 11 any day now. The pilots charge the carrier isn't bargaining in good faith and the flight attendants, mounting a candlelight march, say that Midwest's cuts are draconian and anyway were designed by an outside firm (Seabury). The airline, which is slashing its fleet, has not ruled out a filing.