Expert to Frontier's new owner: Don't go changin'

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert D. Drain's approval yesterday of Republic Airways Holdings' plan to purchase Denver-based Frontier Airlines was widely expected and went according to Hoyle -- and while other bidders can step forward in the next thirty days, you can bet none will. Now, the clock is running on Republic's decision about either leaving Frontier's HQ here or moving it to Indianapolis, where the parent company is based. In all likelihood, Denverites would maintain loyalty to Frontier due to a mixture of nostalgia and superior service even if the carrier headed to Indy. But Seth Kaplan of Airline Weekly magazine advises Republic to move cautiously when it comes to changes. Speaking to Marketplace, a public-radio enterprise, Kaplan believes that meddling in Frontier's operations (which have recently been on the uptick, with 89 percent flight capacity in June) would be counterproductive. "There are regional airlines that have tried to raise their own profile -- the equivalent of putting 'Republic' on the side of an airplane and trying to sell those flights on their own -- and the results have not been very good," he notes.

At this point, Republic plans to leave Frontier's name in place. Execs would be well-advised to do the same in regard to the company's home base.

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