How Southwest Airlines Lost Its Bid for Frontier

August 2009

The Frontier Airlines employees who marched on the streets in hopes of keeping their proud company's integrity intact appear to have scored a major victory. Southwest Airlines, which swaggered with loads of cash but little in the way of union diplomacy, failed in its effort to purchase Frontier, a major competitor that would have been absorbed and then eliminated in coming years (via The Denver Post). Frontier will keep its name, meaning the bear and the rest of the zoo will likely stay on the fleet's tail fins thanks to Republic Airways Holdings, which walked away from the bidding wars in what can only be described as one of the shrewdest business coups of the year. The move could also vindicate Frontier's marketing. Ginger Polley, who often flies Frontier for business, was "relieved" when she learned Republic won out, "because it gives me hope that they will keep the name, branding and animals. Something about those animals is just warm and fuzzy." Southwest failed to reach an agreement on integrating its pilots union with Frontier's, the Denver Business Journal and other publications reported yesterday as Southwest's effort began to show signs of strain. The two pilots unions apparently haggled over how to mesh their seniority lists. "In this case, common sense lost out to fear, uncertainty and doubt," Robert Mann, an aviation consultant, tells Bloomberg.