The goal of growing Mitchell International ties closely together with the development of Milwaukee as an international city. Further it will help to bring tourism, business, jobs and money into the city of Milwaukee. To reach this goal steps need to be taken to improve service, increase international flights, further airport expansion, and connect the airport to downtown.
The first step towards improving Mitchell International is to address the issue of adequate service. Currently air service is hampered as one of our largest carriers, Northwest, continues to struggle. This hurts Mitchell International and its ability to connect Milwaukee with the rest of the U.S by limiting flights and raising prices.
The solution to this problem is for Milwaukee to bring Southwest to Mitchell International . Southwest has shown it is one of America’s best airlines and could fill the need Northwest is failing so badly at. Beyond simply filling a need, Southwest’s arrival could lead to increased business and tourism as Southwest has a track record of lowering average fares and increasing passengers per day each way when they enter new markets.
The second part of this plan is to bring international flights to Milwaukee and again Southwest can help in bringing international direct flights to Milwaukee. This has happened at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, when Southwest grew their traffic at the airport the overall traffic grew with it and pushed the airport to expand their facilities which in turn made them more attractive to international airlines.
To help facilitate bringing more international direct flights to Milwaukee, the land from the base closing should be used to develop an international terminal. The international flights Milwaukee should consider landing include Germany, Ireland and China. Germany is attractive as a tourist destination as it has historical ties to Milwaukee. And recently Governor Doyle lead an economic development mission to Ireland so it appears Ireland is poised to becomsignificantlynt trading partner with Wisconsin. Further as China's markets become more open these flights could open opportunities for increased trade as well. Given that Boston a city of 589,141 people has recently added Hainan Airlines, soon to be Grand China Airline, which will provide direct flights to China, it is possible that Milwaukee with a population 596,974 people could support these type of flights.
The final step is in the process of updating Mitchell International is the building of a light rail line that would connect the airport to downtown. The benefit of this line is that by tying the airport to downtown air travel becomes easy and less expensive. Additionally a light rail line allows for the possibility of transit oriented developments being created from downtown to the south side.
The combination of airport expansion, direct international flights, bringing Southwest Airlines to Mitchell International and a connecting rail line to downtown would create a new economic engine for Milwaukee and should become a key part of Milwaukee's revitalization efforts.
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