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Republic Plans Unified Brand - Drop Midwest Name

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Well-known member
Sep 12, 2002

Republic Airways plans 'unified' brand, may drop Midwest name

By Tom Daykin of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: Feb. 26, 2010 |(64) Comments

One year after marking its silver anniversary, the Midwest Airlines brand appears headed for retirement, a move that could cut costs and create a more focused marketing approach for Midwest's new owner.

Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc., which bought Midwest in July and Frontier Airlines in October, plans to announce this spring its "unified brand plan," company spokesman Carlo Bertolini said Friday. He spoke after Republic Chairman Bryan Bedford said a new brand is coming soon, suggesting it might not use either the Midwest or Frontier name.
"We will get to a unified brand," Bedford said, during a teleconference to discuss Republic's fourth-quarter earnings.

"Now, that's different than saying we're going to pick one or the other, and keep one and lose one," said Bedford. "We believe both Frontier and Midwest bring great brand value to us. And we need to work in a path of fusing these brands that retains as much customer loyalty as we can."
"Fusing" the brands involves providing a more consistent product, including customer service, Bertolini said.

One brand for Midwest and Frontier also would help the combined airlines operate more efficiently and cut costs, Bertolini said.

Republic is conducting surveys of its customers, and it plans to complete that process by mid-March, Bedford said. Company managers will then talk to front-line employees of both Midwest and Frontier, which is based in Denver.

Sometime after Labor Day, Frontier and Midwest passengers will be booking tickets on one reservation system for both airlines, Bedford said.

"Again, I do believe that we're going to keep the best of both of what is Frontier and Midwest because both markets are just critical to us and to our long-term success," Bedford said. "But we're going to be very deliberate and cautious as to how we unify those brands."

'The brand is dead'

The loss of the Midwest brand name, which started with the airline's launch in 1984, will be of little consequence, said Steve Eichenbaum, who operates Milwaukee advertising firm Eichenbaum and Associates Inc.
Eichenbaum said the extra-wide seats and other characteristics that used to distinguish Midwest from other airlines are gone.

"The brand is dead," Eichenbaum said. "The Midwest brand . . .  isn't going to work for them. They're not the best care in the air. They're no different than anyone else."

"It's no longer Midwest in products and people," said Jay Sorensen, a former Midwest marketing manager. "It's a small degree to drop the name."
Frontier is a stronger brand name than Midwest, said Sorensen, who operates IdeaWorks, a Shorewood marketing consulting firm. He said Frontier is a better known name throughout the United States than Midwest and that it has a good reputation for customer service.
"But I think that this management team wants to have more control in creating a new brand," Sorensen said about Bedford.

Eichenbaum said the combined airline might simply be called "Republic." But, he said, that's a name that "doesn't mean anything" to Midwest customers.

Since buying Oak Creek-based Midwest, Republic has restored nonstop flights from Milwaukee to destinations such as St. Louis and Los Angeles. In November, Bedford said Republic would double its local workforce, adding up to 800 jobs in Milwaukee and Oak Creek over the next year. About half of those positions are to be shifted to the Milwaukee area from Frontier operations in Denver and elsewhere.

Hundreds of former Midwest flight attendants and pilots remain on furlough. They lost their jobs when Republic dropped Midwest's Boeing 717 fleet and replaced the planes with jets flown by lower-paid flight crews.
The Midwest crews might eventually fly on Republic-owned aircraft. But that depends in part on negotiations to combine the seniority lists of the different unions that represent employees from Republic, Midwest and Frontier.
How about Allegis for a brand name? Oh nevermind, thats been tried by marketing geniuses before........
Branded will only ensure the end of RAH.... might as well crank it up and make some popcorn!
They are going two stick with two brands. You watch and see. United and Southwest in Denver and Airtran and Southwest in Milwaukee.
They should go with Republic. Their slogan can be, "We have the cheapest tickets and cheapest aircrews in the sky. We pass our savings onto you."
Not to slam fellow FlightInfoer's, but I think the reader commentaries at the end of the Journal Sentinal article are more interesting. If you look at the original link, you'll read the general public's comments at the bottom of the article.

Basically, the general public is saying, "Screw you, Bedford, with your crappy CRJ's and 170's and lousy, intermittent service. Show me the Southwest and the Airtran."
Please don't drag the proud Republic Airlines name into the crapper.
Boy...I must be out of the loop. Can anyone tell me what arbitration this reader comment is referring to...

wahoo - Feb 27, 2010 8:51 AM

In reality Republic is engaged in an arbitration (due back any time now) that basically argues that Midwest Airlines, as it pertains to the crews contracts, does not exist. That the crews have no claims to their jobs and they are owed nothing.

A ruling against the unions would set the precedent for any company with a standing union work force to be acquired and replaced with non-union workers.

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