According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, USA Today and many media reports, Republic is falling back from the Frontier push the company began in 2009, and looking to resume its rent-a-plane role as a regional flight feeder for larger airlines.
General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) employees and travelers have been affected significantly by Republic's retreat already.
Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) president Tim Sheehy told Today's TMJ4 the economic impact on Mitchell Airport and the Milwaukee business community is likely to be major, and that MMAC would be reaching out "agressively" to airlines to maintain MKE's competitive services.
Frontier has turned out to be an unprofitable venture for Republic, USA Today reported; this year's losses happened because:
Continuing high fuel prices cost $5 million in fuel hedge losses, repairs after a Denver hailstorm damaged aircraft and equipment cost $10 million and fleet changes cost $4.3 million; but flying for other airlines earned Republic a $17.3 million profit.
Job-losses have begun to hit Frontier's hubs: so far, the airline has cut 120 jobs in Milwaukee out of about 1,000, the Denver Business Journal reported, and 100 positions in Denver, according to Denverpost.com.
Milwaukee's airport experienced steady, rapid growth from 2009 to 2011 as Republic made the city a Frontier Airlines hub and became one of two major carriers, along with Air-Tran Airways (now owned by Southwest Airlines); MKE's booming business boosted companies throughout Southeastern Wisconsin.
Will community, business, airport and government leaders (and officials) join to overcome adversity, and work together to minimize adverse economic consequences from Republic's sudden retreat from the Greater Milwaukee frontier?