Republic eyes low-cost airline role for CSeries fleet

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Republic Airways will seek to operate the 40 Bombardier CSeries aircraft ordered two years ago as a low-cost carrier feeding a major airline alliance.

Republic became the North American launch customer for the CSeries in February 2010, signing deals to begin receiving 40 138-seat CS300s in the fourth quarter of 2015. The order also included an option to buy another 40 CS300s.

It was widely thought at the time of the order that Republic was acquiring the CSeries to deploy with its Frontier Airlines subsidiary, which is now being spun-off into a separate company.

But Bryan Bedford, Republic's chief executive, has clarified that Frontier will take orders for the Airbus A320neo along with it into indepedence, but the CSeries orders will remain with Republic.

The CSeries is not eligible to be placed within Republic's normal regional flying for major carriers, as scope close restrictions with pilots unions prevent most aircraft between 90 and 130 seats to operate in that role.

Instead, Bedford envisions that the CSeries will fit into a new role that will come into existence over the next three years.

"I still think that what we're going to see is a worldview where a low-cost carrier participates in alliances in 2015, and there will be a need for [the CSeries] there," said Bedford, speaking on 23 May at the Regional Airlines Association convention.

Bedford declined to elaborate on the details of the plan. "I don't think we have to articulate our 2015 strategy yet," he said.