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Frontier could seek marketing deal with major airline

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Frontier Airlines may seek a marketing agreement with a major carrier as industry collaboration continues, said Bryan Bedford, chief executive of Indianapolis-based parent company Republic Airways Holdings Inc.

Airlines use marketing agreements to extend the reach of their route systems, reaping some of the benefits of a merger without the risks. Republic, which operates commuter flights for larger carriers, acquired Frontier last year while the low-fare carrier was in bankruptcy.

Bedford declined to offer specifics during a telephone interview Monday or say whether Frontier already is in talks.  “We do believe there is a low-cost opportunity where, frankly, we think Frontier could help some of our network partners,” he said. “It’s premature to speculate on who and what that would be.”

Network carriers funnel passengers from smaller cities into multiple hub airports. Frontier and Midwest Air Group Inc., which Republic also acquired last year, have regional operations in Denver and Milwaukee.

AMR Corp.’s American Airlines and JetBlue Airways Corp. agreed in March to a partnership that gives American passengers flying into New York’s Kennedy airport access to JetBlue flights to Boston and beyond.

Hawaiian Airlines Inc. signed a codeshare, or marketing, agreement, in September with Delta Air Lines Inc., the second- biggest U.S. carrier. Alaska Air Group Inc. said last month it was expanding a codeshare with American on flights between the U.S. West Coast and Mexico.

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