Local News

Midway's Demise Could Send Ripples Through Triangle's Economy

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RALEIGH — Wednesday's announcement by Midway Airlines that it is shutting down and laying off 1,700 remaining employees could very well have ripple effects that extend well beyond the laid-off employees.

In the short term, the size of the layoffs Midway announced today could swamp the offices of the Employment Security Commission. In the long-term, it could drag down efforts to recruit new companies to the Triangle.

Some of the Midway workers who lost their jobs last month walked right into new ones with Southwest Airlines. But finding work may be more difficult for the 1,700 employees who were laid off Wednesday.

Travelers will find less flexibility in booking flights through Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Business leaders said that could cost the Triangle a valuable selling point in recruiting new businesses.

"I think anytime you have a home-based airline you have the opportunity for more direct flights, and more direct flights has an economic advantage for people because they cut down on the amount of time they're traveling, and time is money," Harvey Schmitt of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce said.

Local business leaders hoped Midway would get back on course. Now that the hometown airline has shut down, they are optimistic that another airline will increase its committment to the Triangle.

"RDU is a terrific facility. I think people will be interested in picking up more routes, if not full operations," Schmitt said.

Business officials said it is too early to say which airline, if any, they might pursue to fill in the gap left by Midway, and local employment offices will hold group meetings for Midway employees, to tell them about the job-hunting services they offer.