In a setback to its plan to return to the sky, Midwest Express Airlines said Monday that it has severed ties with the carrier that was to operate its initial flights. 

Midwest Express had said in August 2019 that it had partnered with Maine-based Elite Airways to operate its flights.

On Monday, Midwest Express said that it “has ended its partnership with Elite Airways.”

Additionally, “Midwest Express has filed a lawsuit against Elite because Elite breached its agreement with Midwest Express.”

A Midwest spokesman said in a statement the company would not take any questions or provide further details because the subject is the topic of ongoing litigation.

All of the customer-facing service on the flights was to be provided by Midwest.

Elite was to do the flying initially under the Midwest Express banner while Midwest built its business and pursued its own airline operating certificate and aircraft.

Obtaining aircraft and an operating certificate are extraordinarily expensive and difficult, airline industry watchers have said.

Elite Airways flies Bombardier CRJ 200 and CRJ 700 regional jets. The CRJ 200s have 50 seats and the CRJ 700s have 70 seats.

Meanwhile, Midwest said it is in “substantial discussions with other airline operators,” with which to partner. 

It’s been about a decade since Midwest Express (later Midwest Airlines) planes stopped flying.

At least in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, the brand has proven to have staying power.

Midwest was known for its frequent, nonstop flights. Its customer service and its people — from reservation agents to flight crews — were considered legendary by many in the community.

Midwest is also known for the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies it served on its flights. 

The leaders of the effort to bring the airline back say they will continue the tradition of serving cookies.

Midwest said in December that its first flights would operate between Milwaukee and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Omaha, Nebraska; and Cincinnati, Ohio.

However, there was no timetable set for starting service.

That status remains unchanged. 

“Midwest Express is continuing fundraising efforts,” according to the statement issued on Monday. 

“A date has not yet been set for the start of service.”

Contact Joe Taschler at (414) 224-2554 or Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTaschler or Facebook at

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