Q400s out of Frontier, Embraers in

News of the Republic/Frontier/Midwest integration is eked out like a near-springtime trickle from a great glacier. You know there is more to come, but have to wait for warmer weather. The weather was balmy yesterday, as Republic Airways Holdings CEO Bryan Bedford addressed the Raymond James conference.

Lynx going, so are Frontier's Q400s

As he was speaking, the company announced it was ending Lynx Aviation and replacing the 76-seat Q400s flown by Frontier’s regional subsidiary with Embraer ERJ 170 and ERJ 190 service. The move comes at a time when peer group member Pinnacle said its costs for the Q400, compared to a 76-seat jet was 25% below that of the RJ. The ERJs will be operated by Republic Airlines.

As suggested by the fact that several months ago Lynx could no longer be found on the Frontier website, Republic is phasing out the turboprop operation, along with the Q400s, and expects to complete the process by mid-September. It said that Lynx destinations will remain, with the exception of Fargo, ND and Tulsa, OK, which will cease on 05-Apr-2010.

Three of the Bombardier aircraft will come out of the fleet on 06-Apr-2010 and another three on 19-Apr-2010, losing the Canadian manufacturer one of its three customers in the US. The company is also terminating leases of seven CRJ 200s operated by Chautauqua, returning them to the lessor. The actions are part of a fleet simplification move, said the airline.

Denver battleground intensifies

The company stated its jet transition in the Lynx markets will improve its ability to compete in the highly contested Denver market. “The Q400 operates at a competitive disadvantage to jet service offered by competitors,” it said in its announcement. “The change supports the company's ongoing program to simplify and optimize its fleet resources across its entire network, improving aircraft utilisation and cost efficiencies company-wide.”

The Lynx cessation means the layoff of 175 more positions from the Frontier operation, including flight crews, operations, customer service and support personnel although most will be offered positions at either Republic or Frontier in similar capacities.

"Lynx employees have done an outstanding job of providing service to a number of regional communities and have provided important passenger connections to Frontier's network," said Republic Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Wayne Heller, who said the move will help sustain the already planned growth necessary to rebuild the Frontier and Midwest networks. "Unfortunately, after extensive analysis and months of efforts to grow the business, we concluded we could not efficiently operate a fleet of 11 Q400 aircraft. Converting service from the Q400 fleet to jet service allows us to better utilise our existing aircraft resources and lower our cost of operating and maintaining multiple fleet types, while providing our customers with outstanding jet service."

It also announced new non-stops between Denver and Branson, MO; Green Bay and Madison, WI; Newport News, VA; Grand Rapids, MI; and Santa Barbara and Long Beach, CA. The new service is added to new Frontier/Midwest service previously announced between Oklahoma City, Orlando and Tampa; Denver, Fairbanks, Jackson Hole, New Orleans and Louisville along with seasonal service to Anchorage; Milwaukee and St. Louis, San Francisco and Raleigh as well as between Omaha and Orlando and Tampa. Frontier's Denver - Fort Myers, Fla. route will be upgraded from seasonal to year-round service.

In addition, it is launching seasonal frequencies including a third roundtrip between Denver and New York’s LaGuardia, as well as an additional frequency to San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, which brings daily frequencies to five.

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