Culture clash causes Frontier and Western Pacific to part

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Western Pacific Airlines (WestPac) and Frontier Airlines have terminated merger moves because of alleged "cultural differences" which undermined the amalgamation of the two small Colorado-based carriers.

The directors of Western Pacific and Frontier signed a merger deal on 30 June under which WestPac would acquire the smaller carrier, creating one of the largest low-fare operators in the USA.

The two carriers, with a total of 32 Boeing 737s (19 with WestPac), had planned to reach "critical mass" through the marriage, which involved an exchange of stock. In July they started an interim codesharing operation to 25 destinations from Denver and Colorado Springs in Colorado.

On 29 September the merger agreement was terminated and the codeshare is scheduled to end on 16 November. Both airlines have lost money recently and they had originally presented the deal as being essential for them both to survive.

Bob Peiser, WestPac president and chief executive, says: "The merger was taking a toll on employee morale, financial performance and operations of both airlines. We also believe that given our cultural differences and the contrast in our scheduling philosophies, it is in the best interests of both companies to remain independent."

Peiser says that he is continuing to talk to potential investors who were in discussion with Westpac before the merger breakdown and is looking at possible new codeshare partners. He has also told an employee hot line that the route structure will be reconsidered.

Frontier says that "-it became evident that this was not a marriage made in heaven, and that the merger was not meant to be." The carrier, which began operations in 1994, will continue to operate from Denver International Airport.