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Republic Airways profit jumps on Frontier restructuring

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Third quarter profit at Republic Airways Holdings Inc. soared 186 percent from a year earlier in the wake of restructuring its Frontier Airlines unit, the Indianapolis-based company announced late Wednesday.

The company reported profit of $25.8 million, or 51 cents per share, up from $9 million, or 18 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2011.

Profit at Denver-based Frontier rose to $29.8 million from a loss of $1.5 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 1.1 percent.

Republic's earnings increase came despite a 7.1-percent decline in revenue, to $713 million, on a decrease in seat capacity.

Earlier Wednesday, Republic said it had worked out changes to its Chautauqua regional airline business that will save it roughly $45 million per year over the next five years.

Major airlines such as Delta and United hire regional operators like Chautauqua to handle flying from smaller cities to their hubs.

The regional business has been under severe pressure because higher fuel prices have made small jets unprofitable. Republic competitor Pinnacle is in Chapter 11 protection, and Comair, the regional airline owned by Delta Air Lines Inc., flew its final flight last month.

Republic said the cost-saving moves also include an agreement between Chautauqua and Delta to operate seven more Embraer ERJ-145 planes. Those 50-seat jets had been idled, but will be flying again by the end of this year, Republic said.

As for restructuring underway at Chautauqua, “thus far, that effort has resulted in meaningful financial improvements,” Republic CEO Bryan Bedford said in a prepared statement.

Republic has been seeking to sell part or all of Frontier, which competes against Southwest Airlines and United Airlines at its Denver hub.

Republic shares opened at $4.71 each, their lowest opening in nearly a month.

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