Regional Jet Operator Republic Airways to Expand

Nov. 4--Its name might not be familiar, but Republic Airways operates one of every four flights leaving Port Columbus. Now, it's planning an even bigger presence.

The regional jet operator could add up to 100 workers to its Columbus operation. Its current 667-member work force in central Ohio is its biggest outside of its Indianapolis headquarters.

This year, Continental Airlines said it had become Republic's fifth majorairline partner. Republic will operate 44 jets nationally for Continental under that deal, which begins in January.

"We are not a consumer brand, and don't have any aspirations to be," said Warren Wilkinson, vice president of marketing for Republic. "But we are a major player at Port Columbus. No one else in the U.S. is trusted by five network carriers."

Republic flies for American, Delta, US Airways and United airlines under the Republic, Chautauqua and Shuttle America nameplates. As of yesterday, Republic operated 45 daily flights for those carriers, with Delta and US Air- ways accounting for 33 of them.

Republic's jets seat between 50 and 86 passengers. The firm also does some charter business in Columbus. For example, it operates a regular shuttle to Des Moines for Nationwide, and transports many NCAA Division I basketball teams to games during the season.

David Whitaker, vice president of business development for Port Columbus, said Republic's presence at Port Columbus "has an enormously positive impact on the air service we're able to offer from here." He said further expansion by Republic could only be good for flight service and the economy as a whole in Columbus.

Columbus courted Republic's Chautauqua to put its headquarters here in 2001 and 2003, but both time, it decided to remain in Indianapolis.

In June 2005, Columbus City Council approved a 10-year, 75-percent tax abatement and a 10-year, 65-percent jobscreation tax credit to aid Republic in expanding its Port Columbus maintenance operations. At that time, Chautauqua had 277 employees in Columbus.

Republic's Columbus force today includes 290 pilots, 205 flight attendants and 162 mechanics.

The firm will hold a job fair for flight attendants Nov. 15 and 16 at the Marriott Columbus Airport.

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