Former Midwest MRO facility to begin A320 checks in 4Q

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Republic Airways Holdings plans to introduce later this year heavy maintenance capabilities for Airbus A320 family aircraft at the former Midwest Airlines MRO facility in Milwaukee.

Republic CEO Bryan Bedford tells ATI the company's Milwaukee maintenance facility is now in the process of preparing for A320s, including training mechanics for the aircraft type. He says the facility will be ready to overhaul its first A320 in the fourth quarter of this year.

Indianapolis-based Republic last year acquired Milwaukee-based Midwest and Denver-based Frontier Airlines. Republic subsequently unveiled plans to close Frontier's Denver maintenance base, which had been overhauling Frontier's fleet of A318s, A319s and A320s.

Bedford says the Denver facility is now closed and "we are outsourcing Airbus heavy MRO in the interim". The Milwaukee facility previously overhauled Midwest's Boeing 717s and Boeing MD-80s but both these aircraft types are no longer in the Midwest network.

Establishing an A320 MRO capability in Milwaukee is in line with Republic's overall strategy to in-source heavy airframe maintenance. Republic also has large maintenance facilities in Indianapolis, Columbus in Ohio and Louisville in Kentucky. These facilities overhaul Bombardier and Embraer regional jets.

Republic is now using its own fleet of regional jets and Frontier-operated A320-family aircraft in Milwaukee. The Denver network is now being flown with a mix of Republic E-jets, Frontier A320s and Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s operated by Lynx, Frontier's former regional subsidiary was is also now owned by Republic.

Republic earlier this year unveiled plans to sell Lynx and its 11 Q400s. Bedford tells ATI there is no fixed date yet for closing the Lynx operation in Denver as it unclear when the aircraft will be sold. He says "we got interest in Lynx" and Republic is looking to sell Lynx's air operators' certificate combined with the aircraft or simply the aircraft.

Midwest and Frontier are now in the process of merging under the unified Frontier brand.