Republic works to unify Frontier, Midwest brands

Washington DC
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Regional airline company Republic Airways Holdings (RAH) continues to move toward a unified brand following its purchase of Midwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines in 2009.

The company has been conducting marketing surveys and focus groups with passengers and will likely finish that effort in mid March. Then RAH will further discuss the effort with its employees.

"We will get to a unified brand," a RAH executive said during a 25 February investors call. "That's different than saying we're going pick one or the other, and keep one and lose one. We believe both Frontier and Midwest bring great brand value to us. We need to work in a path of fusing these brands that retains as much customer loyalty as we can."

He adds that he expects to announce a unified brand process in the spring, and that the company will execute the process throughout 2010.

After the Labour Day holiday in September, he expects the unified brand to be operated on one Sabre platform and one Website.

"We're going to keep the best of both of what is Frontier and Midwest because both markets are just critical to us and to our long term success, but we're going to be very deliberate and cautious about how we unify those brands" the executive says.

The outcome of the unification process will ultimately impact how RAH places the Bombardier CSeries aircraft that the company intends to buy.

RAH and Bombardier announced on 25 February a purchase agreement for 40 firm and 40 options of the CS300 variant of the twin-jet.

It is a "safe assumption" that the CSeries aircraft will be placed into branded operations, a RAH spokesman says.

Aircraft will be fitted with Pratt & Whitney PW1000G engines, and RAH has inked an exclusive 15-year maintenance deal with the engine supplier. The deal also covers six spare engines.

CSeries aircraft will be delivered with 138 seats starting in the second quarter of 2015.

The deal will be worth roughly $6 billion at list price if all options are exercised.

RAH appears pleased with the financing component of the transaction.

"It's cash friendly for us over the next two, three years. It does not put a cash-squeeze on our business," RAH executive vice president and chief executive officer Hal Cooper says.