Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010
Road to Palm Springs
When Bryan Bedford joined Chautauqua Airlines as CEO in 1999, it was industry practice for such feeder airlines to partner with just one mainline carrier. For Chautauqua, that carrier was Allegheny Airlines.
Based on his recent experience as CEO of Mesaba Airlines, whose only client was Northwest Airlines, Bedford realized that this business model had to change if Chautauqua was going to grow.
Bedford embarked on a program for Chautauqua to become a low-cost provider with a focus on reliability. With lower costs and better reliability, Chautauqua would have the leverage necessary to break the mold and establish contracts with other carriers.
Bedford recruited several highly respected industry veterans to help the company execute an approach centered on the efficient deployment of regional jets on behalf of a diverse selection of network partners.
The strategy proved to be an enormous success. In 2001, holding company Republic Airways was formed.
Today, Republic Airways, which went public in 2004, owns Chautauqua Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Lynx Aviation, Midwest Airlines, Republic Airlines and Shuttle America. In addition, the company serves five major US airlines on a fixed-fee basis.
Key to the airline’s success was a visionary investment in the revolutionary Embraer E-Jet, which offers passenger cabin space that rivals that of mainline aircrafts.
As a result, major airlines were able to sustain service to important business markets while still fulfilling their brand promise – something not always possible in regional code-sharing.
Republic, which grew from a “mom and pop” airline to a company of 11,000 aviation professionals, was able to win multiple long-term contracts with most of the legacy airlines. The company has posted 31 consecutive quarters of profitability.