2016 TOP STORIES: Retooled Republic preps to exit bankruptcy

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Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February, says it expects to emerge from bankruptcy during the first quarter of 2017.

Republic, which has about 5,200 employees, is a regional carrier that operates about 850 daily flights for American, Delta and United.

A national pilot shortage and a years-long dispute with its pilots over a new contract were among factors pushing Republic into bankruptcy. Because the airline didn’t have enough pilots, it was unable to fulfill its obligation to the larger airlines.

But since filing for bankruptcy protection, Republic has taken steps to improve its situation. It has renegotiated agreements with all three of the airlines it flies for. It reconfigured its fleet, phasing out 50-seat regional jets and converting other airplanes to create a fleet of 76-seaters.

Having aircraft that are all the same size is more efficient and will allow Republic to operate under a single operating certificate instead of two, Republic says.

In recent months, Republic has also taken steps to address its pilot shortage. In November, the airline announced a partnership with Middle Georgia State University’s aviation program—the 20th such agreement Republic has inked. The partnerships aim to strengthen the relationship between Republic and students who are its potential future hiring pool.

In November, Republic announced that it had filed its plan of reorganization with “full support” from its creditor committee.

A plan of reorganization, a required component of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, outlines what a company has accomplished in bankruptcy and how it will operate in the future.

The plan of reorganization requires court approval. A hearing on Republic’s plan was scheduled for Dec. 21.•

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