I caught up with Kevin Healy, AirTran's senior vice president of marketing and planning, at a low-cost carrier conference in Miami this week. AirTran has been adding a lot of service in Milwaukee to take advantage of what it sees as a significantly weakened hometown carrier, Midwest. So I asked Healy what impact Indianapolis-based Republic's acquisition of Midwest would have on the competition there.
AirTran's leadership already had been unsparing in deriding Midwest (Aviation Daily subscriber-only story) as an airline that has gone from offering premium service to becoming a "regional carrier" that is ripe to be picked off. So it should come as no surprise that Healy did not mince words.
"We used to be competing with the hometown carrier," Healy said. "Now we're competing with an Indianapolis-based regional airline masquerading as Midwest."
Being the hometown carrier, Healy added, "means a huge amount in Milwaukee."
In other words, AirTran believes Midwest is losing its last edge.