Money problems end many marriages and the break-up of Colorado's low-cost couple is no different. Just days after Western Pacific and Frontier Airlines called off their merger Western Pacific announced it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the latest set-back for low-cost contenders in the US.

WestPac was due to acquire Frontier creating a combined operation of 35 B737s. The latter was to shift its 13 aircraft from its Colorado Springs base to present a larger combined fleet at United Airlines' Denver hub.

But WestPac's president and chief executive officer, Robert Peiser, ended the deal citing cultural differences and contrasts in scheduling philosophies. He says it was in each carrier's best interests to remain independent. 'We found the amount of time involved in consummating the merger was taking a toll on the employee morale, financial performance and operations of both airlines,' adds Peiser.

But staff morale at WestPac took an even bigger plunge less than a week later when four of its directors resigned and the airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, allowing operations to continue as normal. In its filing, WestPac declared $99 million in total liabilities against $133 million in assets.

Frontier says it is not actively seeking another partner, but still wants to expand its fleet from 13 to around 25 B737s. 'We are now actively looking at how to acquire those aircraft,' says one senior official at Frontier. 'The WestPac deal was a very tempting prospect because of that, but we were like a couple who thought they would get married, moved in with each other and found they didn't get along.'

Source: Airline Business