Local News

Midway Airlines Deal Finalized

Posted February 11, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— As WRAL-TV5 News first reported three weeks ago, the wealthiest man in North Carolina is now in the airline business. A group of investors, led by Cary billionaire Jim Goodnight, has landed a deal to take control of Midway Airlines.

Everything looks the same at the Midway counter at RDU International, but the airline now has new ownership. Goodnight, president of SAS Institute, gathered a group of investors who raised $22 million to pour into the financially struggling airline. They now own more than 70 percent of Midway.

Robert Ferguson has been named Midway's new president and CEO, a position he knows well. He is the former president of Continental Airlines.

Ferguson says Midway customers will not see much change at first because expansion will move slowly. But, he says, whatever growth the airline does experience will be based at RDU

Most Midway employees are breathing a collective sigh of relief now that the deal is complete. Midway has about 1,000 employees in the Triangle, and Flight attendant Dana Shiner says some have been worried about the airline's financial situation.

Midway is currently the busiest airline at RDU with 36 departures daily to 14 cities. Last year it carried 26 percent of all passengers leaving RDU.

Another potential owner of the airline, People Express founder Donald Burr, wanted to move the airline's operations to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Goodnight, who shies away from media coverage, did not attend Tuesday's press conference announcing the $22 million deal.