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Frontier Airlines for sale: Don't expect JetBlue or Southwest to be buyers, says industry expert

Thumbnail image for badger tail frontier image cropped.jpg
It's only been two years since Republic Airways Holdings bested Southwest in the Frontier Airlines sweepstakes -- but the Republic-Frontier pairing is already headed for Splitsville. This week, Republic CEO Bryan Bedford said the firm is looking at selling Frontier, prompting speculation that Southwest or JetBlue may become bidders. But airline consultant Michael Boyd says don't bet on it.

Another industry expert, Jay Sorensen, calls JetBlue a long-shot suitor, while Small Cap Network notes that Southwest could pick up Frontier for less than it offered back in 2009. But neither argument holds water for Boyd, whose Boyd Group International is based in Evergreen.

michael boyd.jpg
Michael Boyd.
Regarding Southwest, Boyd says, "Not a chance. You don't buy what you already have, and Southwest has already taken what it wants in Denver.

"The reality is, Southwest, for the first time in its history, got a very bad bloody nose when it entered the Denver market. For the first three years, Frontier hammered it, which is why Southwest was interested. Buying it would have taken out a competitor. But now, Southwest is so big that Frontier isn't really a competitor anymore. So that situation doesn't exist.

"We used to have two hometown teams in Denver: the Broncos and Frontier. But Republic frittered that away, because it diluted the brand by combining it with Midwest," another of its properties. "To be fair, they got stuck with that. Through a series of events, they had no choice but to say, 'We'll take it.' But now, you're sometimes on a plane with an animal on the tail and sometimes it says Midwest, and that diluted the product."

Meanwhile, Southwest has boomed, "and since it's already the largest local carrier in Denver, there's nothing Frontier offers them," Boyd says.

As for JetBlue, Boyd asks, "Why would JetBlue come into a market dominated by Southwest? There isn't a lot of opportunity there. JetBlue has always tried not to pick a fight with anyone when it comes into a market, and there'd be a big fight if they came here."

That doesn't mean Frontier has no value. "It's a very good airline," Boyd stresses. "When you get onto a Frontier plane, it's like going back to the 1950s. The people in the cabin are the best in the industry, and there's huge value in that. There's just not huge value for another airline to buy it."

His most likely scenario: "Probably some investor group will buy it. And Republic will sell it to anybody who will get them out of the deal. So they're going to take the first halfway decent offer that comes in."

Whichever investors make this move, Boyd advises them to "circle the wagons in Denver. They still have huge brand loyalty here -- and they've earned it. The situation is still salvageable."

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More from our Business archive: "Frontier pilots approve cost-saving pact, CEO says airline over halfway to profitability goal."


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12 comments
Ddovein13
Ddovein13

Wow.... people forget its all business. Frontier had no problem wiping out west pacific airlines when it had a chance back in 1998. If the shoe was on the other foot frontier would go for it. Unfortunately it looks like there the underdog this time. It's sad what goes around comes around.... I feel for their employees but it's not southwest fault. P.s. I was a former westpac employee...

EAG
EAG

Should of gone with an honest strait forward opprortunity with Southwest !!! Republic gave you an empty promise, took what they wanted and threw the rest away. I feel for you guys,not knowing what your future holds as Frontier. Good luck and God Bless

Mark Watson
Mark Watson

What will happen to Frontier Airlines

Paul Rivera
Paul Rivera

The only carrier that could acquire Frontier is Jetblue. Think about this:-Jetblue and Frontier both have Airbus and Embraer planes. Jetblue wouldnt have to spend much, if anything, on re-training crews, mechanics, etc.-Jetblue and Frontier both offer similar services. DirecTV mainly, and they use similar systems for the onboard TV's.-Jetblue is lacking in the Midwest. This would make Jetblue a true national carrier serving all U.S. regions.

Southwest is already merging with Airtran, so good luck with Southwest obtaining government approval for a Frontier acquisition...

Doris
Doris

I love Frontier, live T.V. and its a total class act, they treat their customers right, The Female Captain evenpushed my mom in the wheelchair and took her into the privatefamily bathroom, on the concourse.  This kindness and above and beyondher job duties is why we only fly Frontier.  They are still show human compassion.

The Gnome
The Gnome

Frontier rocks!   Southworst blows... I wouldn't fly them again if you paid me.    Here's to Frontier taking over Denver again!

P.S. Sorry Teamster pilots... you aren't wrecking this airline...

gogo12
gogo12

Frontier is not that innocent... frontier had no problems stomping out western pacific airlines back in 1998. At the time western pacific airlines was the underdog I guess what goes around comes around

Milwaukeean
Milwaukeean

Speaking from Milwaukee, Republic seems like is destroying former Midwest Airline routes as well. Lately, they reduced number of flights to LGA and DCA to just few, and the price is creeping up - Airtran becomes a leading airline in that direction.

Murphy
Murphy

Merging? You mean "acquired". :)

Ty19173
Ty19173

Come on dude, get with the program........................................................

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