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Airport memo: Republic could bring 750 jobs to Indianapolis

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Locally based Republic Airways Holdings, which earlier this month said it could move up to 400 jobs gained through its Frontier Airlines acquisition to Indianapolis or Milwaukee, has hinted it may move nearly twice that number to its headquarters city.

Republic CEO Bryan Bedford “expressed his desire to potentially relocate up to 750 jobs as a result of their recent acquisitions and is in dialogue with the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana regarding this opportunity,” states a Sept. 11 memo to the Indianapolis Airport Authority board from the authority’s chief financial officer, Marsha Stone.

The memo was prepared for the board in advance of the airport authority’s regular meeting this Friday. The board has been asked to authorize airport CEO John Clark to amend a lease with Republic subsidiary Chautauqua Airlines on two aircraft repair bays it occupies at the former United Airlines maintenance base.

Republic wants the airport to amend its lease so as to be able to occupy a third bay.

“Republic has indicated an interest in taking on an additional hangar at the [base] to perform aircraft maintenance, should Indianapolis be selected as the site for relocation of approximately 140 aircraft maintenance positions,” said Stone’s memo.

Currently about 150 work at Chautauqua’s aircraft-repair facility inside the former United base.

But Republic has inquired about additional potential warehouse and office space at the 1.7 million-square-foot maintenance base for the operation of an airline call center. Earlier this month, Bedford told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Republic was likely to move Frontier’s call center out of New Mexico.

The airport memo stated that Republic informed the airport along with city and state officials that it is operating under a “very tight timeframe” for decisions regarding its Frontier acquisition.

Denver-based Frontier is set to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization by the end of the month. Republic is buying Frontier, and it recently acquired Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines.

The largest tenant at the former United base, Chicago-based AAR Corp., employs about 665 people. Republic would receive one of the hangars that AAR infrequently uses at the facility.

AAR, meanwhile, has indicated that it intends to take on additional work from Southwest Airlines—its largest customer at Indianapolis. According to airport documents, AAR would begin to dismantle aircraft that Southwest is retiring from its fleet. The dismantling has been proposed to take place at the old airport terminal, which was abandoned last fall for the new, $1 billion midfield terminal.

Republic is relatively unknown to most passengers, as it flies smaller regional airliners for many of the nation’s biggest carriers. It employs 4,700, including about 1,200 in Indianapolis. The acquisition of Frontier and Midwest Airlines will more than double its work force nationwide. “Obviously, the airport authority hopes it is a strong contender in any decision Republic might make regarding its current and future operations. We believe [the airport authority] offers a number of strategic advantages that would make Indianapolis attractive to them for this purpose,” said airport authority spokeswoman Susan Sullivan in an e-mail response to IBJ this afternoon.

Republic officials could not be reached for comment.

The airport memo indicated that the authority also provided to Republic a copy of its current Air Service Incentive Plan, “and is in discussion with Republic regarding air service opportunities at Indianapolis International.”

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  • I certainly hope that Bryan and Republic will move newly acquired operations to Indy. I did! What a great place to land (and to take off!)

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