Southwest Airlines Co. said Thursday it is preparing a $113.6 million bid to purchase Frontier Airlines as part of a U.S. Bankruptcy Court proceeding in which airlines are allotted the opportunity to submit nonbinding bid proposals to acquire the troubled carrier.
Denver-based Frontier, which serves Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport, will be sold at auction next month. Other airline competitors are vying for the airline, Southwest confirmed in a statement. Republic Airways filed a bid for Frontier on June 22 totaling $108.8 million, according to Southwest.
The court’s bidding deadline is Aug. 10.
“We are excited about the opportunity to submit a bid,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chairman of the board, president, and CEO. “We see a strong fit between our company cultures, a mutual commitment to high quality customer service, and similar entrepreneurial roots.”
Southwest, which is initiating service at Mitchell International Nov. 1, said the purchase of Frontier Airlines would expand the company’s network, possibly add jobs and boost competition in areas, including Denver.
An acquisition would give Southwest an even stronger entry into the Milwaukee market. Southwest has already scheduled 12 daily nonstop flights to six destinations when it starts service here. Those destinations do not include Denver, which is Frontier’s only nonstop destination from Milwaukee.
Republic has also agreed to buy Midwest Air Group Inc. of Oak Creek for $31 million in a deal expected to close soon. Republic already provides much of Midwest’s service under an airline services agreement between the two carriers.