Republic CEO eyes airline marketing deal, not sale

AP News
Posted: Oct 13, 2010 5:37 PM
Republic CEO eyes airline marketing deal, not sale

The parent of Frontier Airlines is not for sale, although its CEO said on Wednesday that he would be interested in a marketing arrangement with a bigger airline.

Republic Airways Holdings Inc. runs Frontier Airlines, and also does for-hire flying for other big carriers. CEO Bryan Bedford said in an interview that he has been talking to other airlines about the idea of a marketing arrangement. He declined to say which airlines.

JetBlue and American Airlines recently formed a partnership that allows passengers connecting in New York and Boston to fly both airlines on a single ticket. Bedford called the deal "extremely interesting."

Republic bought Frontier and Midwest airlines last year, and is retiring the Midwest name. Bedford says the transition should be finished by middle of next year.

"We're certainly not in a position to buy somebody, and we're not for sale, either," he said. "I do think we're in a position where we can begin to look at alliance opportunities."

"I can't say that we're in any deep-dive discussions with any alliances. We're talking to everybody, and we're trying to understand where we could have our best fit," he said. "There's certainly nothing imminent."

Bedford said that the "code" that designates Midwest flights will be retired by the end of November. He expects an arbitrator to rule on a joint seniority list for Frontier and Republic pilots, who currently have separate unions. Eventually those work forces will be merged, he said.

Frontier capacity will rise 4 percent to 6 percent next year, mostly because it is replacing eight of its Airbus A318s with three larger A319s and seven new A320s.

Shares of Indianapolis-based Republic rose 21 cents, or 2.5 percent, to close at $8.76. The stock lost 21 cents in aftermarket trading.