All signs pointed to Southwest Airlines purchasing Frontier -- but despite Southwest CEO Gary Kelly's optimistic projections in the days before an auction for the Denver-based carrier, a breakdown in labor talks with Frontier pilots presaged an unlikely victory by Republic Airways Holdings. Since then, Southwest has attempted to limit the damage to its reputation from the failed bid, first with a carefully phrased press announcement, and today via a Kelly interview with the Wall Street Journal. In a Denver Business Journal synopsis of that piece (which is behind a paid wall), Kelly concedes that Southwest was "probably a little late getting into the game. Unbeknown to us, Republic had already formulated its own plan." Still, he insists that his company is "in a great position in Denver. We have nearly ten million annual customers in and out of Denver [from zero in 2006]." Meanwhile, he remains on the lookout for another troubled airline to purchase, and shrugs off the defeat by noting, "Even Tiger Woods doesn't win every tournament."
Guess that makes Republic Y.E. Yang.