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Republic Airways adding 800 workers in Milwaukee

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Locally based Republic Airways Holdings Inc. on Tuesday afternoon said it still might bring jobs to Indianapolis as part of the digestion of its newly acquired Frontier Airlines and Midwest Airlines subsidiaries.

But it looks like Milwaukee has wound up as the biggest beneficiary.

Republic said it will preserve 700 jobs at Midwest in Milwaukee and add up to 800 additional jobs there.

In recent months, Indianapolis-based Republic said it might move up to 750 jobs to Indianapolis or Milwaukee as the result of the acquisitions. Republic acquired Milwaukee-based Midwest in July and Denver-based Frontier in October.

According to a Sept. 11 Indianapolis Airport Authority memo, Republic CEO Bryan Bedford had “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.”

Some of those positions were believed to be the result of potentially relocating part of the Frontier’s operations in Denver and a call center in New Mexico.

However, in Tuesday's announcement, Republic said it would add up to 800 full-time positions in Milwaukee, including flight crews and jobs in heavy maintenance, technical support and call-center reservations.

The company also announced new Midwest service from Milwaukee to San Francisco and to Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

Asked whether Milwaukee has indeed become the beneficiary of Republic’s job relocations stemming from the consolidation of the new carriers, Republic spokesman Carlo Bertolini said in a voice mail: “This is not the total completion of our rationalization process. It is possible some of that would result in additional employment in Indianapolis. That’s not finalized yet.”

Milwaukee officials pledged tax credits to Republic worth up to $27 million through 2021. It’s not clear what incentives, if any, were pledged by Indiana officials.

At Republic's request, the Indianapolis Airport Authority board authorized airport staff to amend a lease with Republic subsidiary Chautauqua Airlines on two aircraft repair bays it occupies at the former United Airlines maintenance base. Republic wanted to be able to occupy a third bay. The company 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. 

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

Republic also had 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.

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.

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