Frontier Airlines has lured back Sean Menke, its former chief operating officer, to succeed Jeff Potter as chief executive and president.

Potter, 47, is leaving the Denver-based airline to take over Exclusive Resorts, an upscale leisure firm. His departure set off a flurry of rumours about the future of Frontier, which is locked in an intense rivalry with United Airlines for passengers at Denver as well as facing new competition from Southwest.

But Menke, 38, who had only been at Air Canada since July 2005, brings stability to Frontier, having served from January 1999 until leaving to become Air Canada's chief commercial officer. At Frontier, Menke worked in operations, maintenance, reservations, and in marketing, where he led the launch of the airline's wildlife-themed branding campaign, "a whole different animal". Menke was senior vice-president and chief operating officer when he left for Air Canada.

While there, Menke was part of the group that developed Air Canada's "a la carte" pricing philosophy, and in May, the Montréal-based carrier had promoted him to executive vice-president commercial.

Menke had earlier worked at United, at the defunct Western Pacific Airlines, which was based in Colorado Springs, south of Denver, and at America West Airlines.

Menke's appointment brings continuity, suggesting he will continue the strategy set by Potter and Frontier chairman, Sam Addoms, himself about to retire. Major elements include adding service to Mexican resorts, increasing off-hub flying such as Frontier's growing Memphis operation, and developing Frontier's regional unit Lynx.

Flying 74-seat Bombardier Q400s, Lynx was set up this year to link Denver with medium-sized airports within an hour or two's flying of the hub.

Source: Airline Business