Air Transport World

Same name, different game!(Air Wisconsin)(Company Profile)

When United Airlines first called Geoffrey Crowley about buying Air Wisconsin, he was intrigued but with reservations. Historically, United viewed regional airlines as vendors rather than partners.

And Crowley, a former marketing executive at Northwest, wanted a revised operating agreement before even considering a sale. He didn't want to operate under the same contentious conditions that drove founder Preston Wilbourne and several senior-level managers from the airline that once was the largest regional carrier in the U.S.

"Five months were spent negotiating the operating agreement, one month dealt with the actual purchase," remembers Crowley, president and CEO of Air Wisconsin Air-lines Corp. "The key for us was getting an agreement that was fair for both sides, that would pay us what we were worth in terms of feed to United."

On Dec. 29, 1993, Crowley and five partners bought the crippled Appleton, Wis.-based airline from United for an undisclosed sum. The purchase was made by a privately held company, CJT Holdings Inc. United and British Aerospace have options to acquire small portions of the carrier but the likelihood of this is slight.

Crowley has brought an experienced team of managers to repair the airline including William Jordan, former director-aircraft transactions at Northwest, and Patrick J. Thompson, former senior VP-operations at Mesaba. Two New York investors have no day-to-day role in the airline.

Crowley says United now recognizes the value of its United Express partners but the major carrier still doesn't want to "overpay" to get the feed. …

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