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.