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Say Goodbye to Midwest, Frontier Brands?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Republic Airways, which purchased Midwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines last year, may merge the two carriers into a unified brand with a new name. According to the Journal Sentinel, the move "could cut costs and create a more focused marketing approach for Midwest's new owner."

Ben Mutzabaugh at Today in the Sky writes that Republic "has been flying the two carriers as stand-alone brands. However, Republic has since mixed some of the two airlines' fleets, meaning that some Midwest-branded flights are actually operated on Frontier-branded aircraft and vice versa. That has led to confusion to among at least some of the customers flying on the airlines. A Frontier flight flown on Midwest jet, for example, would not have the DirecTV service that is a signature feature of Frontier."

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Many have declared the Midwest brand, once associated with above-average passenger comfort and warm cookies, to be more or less meaningless. Milwaukee advertising exec Steve Eichenbaum told the Journal Sentinel, "The brand is dead. 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." He noted that Midwest's extra wide seats and other unique aspects of the carrier are long gone.

As for a final brand, it's anyone's guess. Frontier probably has more name recognition at this moment, but Republic may go for a fresh start, or just call the combined carrier Republic Airways and be done with it. The irony is that Frontier chose Republic's purchase bid over a more lucrative offer from Southwest primarily because Republic planned on running Frontier independently.

Either way, fans and frequent flyers of both Frontier and Midwest should keep an eye on this story, as changes could come soon. Republic plans to announce a unified brand strategy this spring.

Readers, are you a Midwest or Frontier loyalist? What do you think Republic should do, and which aspects of the respective brands should survive?

Read comments or add your own insight!
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