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Midway Plots Comeback

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RALEIGH-DURHAM INTERNATIONAL — There is a chance Midway Airlines could be taking off again. The battered airline is working on a plan to get millions of dollars in bailout money from the government. The cash could help get some of the company's planes back in the air.

Just two weeks ago, the airline let go more than 1,700 employees and shut down operations. Now, because of a federal bailout, they are talking about flying again.

The optimism is soaring for Midway Chief Executive Officer Bob Ferguson as he plans a comeback for the hometown airline.

"I think passengers will come back to us. We would intend to resume operations in the next month or so," Ferguson said.

While other airlines have been busy flying, Ferguson has been meeting with folks in Washington. He says Midway qualifies for $12 million in grant money under the airline stablization act passed last week, and could get more in federal loan guarantees.

"We hope to know in three-and-a-half weeks, so keep your fingers crossed," Ferguson said.

Friday evening, Midway accountant Vassie Eng was loading up her car after her last day at work. But, she says she is sticking with the airline and believes they will fly again.

"I hope they do, I think they have a chance. I want to volunteer some time to help in any way I can, in the evenings and on the weekends, to help them," Eng said.

Ferguson thinks passengers will be back, too, despite current concerns about airline safety.

"It'll take some time and people will have to be brought to the point they feel comfortable, but I think they will and we'll be ready to carry them," Ferguson said.

Ferguson says they are looking at hiring back about 900 employees and will probably just start with two daily flights out of RDU. They plan to fly to Boston, New York; Hartford; Conn.; Stewart/Newburgh, N.Y.; Philadelphia; Washington D.C.; and the Florida cities of Tampa, Orlando and West Palm Beach.

This is not yet a done deal. Ferguson will be meeting with creditors and aircraft lenders and employee unions in the next week or so.


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