Republic Airlines

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Republic Airlines
Republic Airlines Logo, December 1980.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
FoundedJuly 1, 1979
Ceased operationsSeptember 30, 1986
(merged with Northwest)
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer programPerks Program
Fleet size171
HeadquartersMinneapolis-St. Paul
International Airport

Fort Snelling, Minnesota
Republic Airlines Final logo; 1984-1986
Republic Airlines Convair 580 in 1979

Republic Airlines (IATA: RCICAO: REPCall sign: REPUBLIC) was a United States airline formed by the merger of North Central Airlines and Southern Airways on July 1, 1979. Their headquarters were at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, in what is now Fort Snelling in unincorporated Hennepin County, Minnesota.[1][2] The former headquarters is now Delta Air Lines Building C.[3] Republic was acquired by and merged into Northwest Airlines in 1986.


Republic Airlines began in 1979 with the merger of North Central Airlines and Southern Airways,[4] the first under airline deregulation.[5] The new airline's headquarters were at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, though their largest hub was at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. Following their buyout of Hughes Airwest in 1980,[6][7] Republic became the largest airline in the U.S. by number of airports served.

The company operated the world's largest McDonnell Douglas DC-9 fleet, with DC-9-10, DC-9-30 and DC-9-50s and also flew Boeing 727-200, Boeing 757-200, and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jets. In addition, Republic operated Convair 580 turboprops previously flown by North Central.[8]

After the merger, losses mounted[9] and service reductions followed.[10] Saddled with debt from two acquisitions and new aircraft, the airline struggled in the early 1980s,[11][12][13] and even introduced a human mascot version of Herman the Duck.[14][15] They reduced service to Phoenix, a former hub of Hughes Airwest, citing their inability to compete with non-union airlines there[16] and eventually dismantled the former extensive route system operated by Hughes Airwest in the western U.S.[17]

Republic Frequent Flyer Program[edit]

In October 1984 Republic introduced a new frequent flyer program called the Republic Frequent Flyer Program. The new program eliminated the need to place a frequent flyer account number sticker on each flight ticket coupon, with earned mileage automatically being assigned to accounts if the reservation was booked directly with Republic. Each flight segment earned a minimum of 1,000 miles or the actual mileage, if greater. A domestic round trip reward ticket was automatically issued every 20,000 miles. The new program included a partnership with Pan American World Airways for earning and redeeming mileage awards. In January 1986, Western Airlines was added as a partner. Effective October 1, 1986, the Republic Frequent Flyer Flyer was merged into the new Northwest Airlines WorldPerks program.

Northwest Airlines[edit]

In 1986, Northwest Orient Airlines announced on January 23 that they would buy Republic for $884 million[9][18] in response to United Airlines' purchase of the Pacific routes of Pan American World Airways and to provide domestic feed.[19] Opposed by the Justice Department,[20] the Northwest-Republic merger was approved by the Transportation Department on July 31[21][22] and was completed on October 1, with Northwest dropping the word Orient from their name after the merger.[23] Republic's hubs at Minneapolis, Memphis, and Detroit became the backbone of Northwest's domestic network.

Northwest later merged with Delta Air Lines in 2008; the deal was finalized in January 2010, with Delta as the surviving air carrier. Republic's hubs in Detroit and the Twin Cities have remained intact with Delta; Memphis was dehubbed in 2013.


Destinations in 1986[edit]

According to the Republic Airlines system route map dated March 2, 1986, the airline was serving the following domestic and international destinations shortly before the merger with Northwest Airlines:[24]



  • Birmingham
  • Huntsville/Decatur
  • Mobile
  • Montgomery


  • Phoenix (PHX) (previously a hub immediately following the acquisition of Hughes Airwest in 1980) [25]
  • Tucson


  • Little Rock





  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Fort Walton Beach
  • Miami
  • Orlando (MCO) (previously a focus city immediately following the merger of North Central Airlines and Southern Airways in 1979) [26]
  • Panama City
  • Sarasota
  • Tampa




  • Fort Wayne
  • Indianapolis
  • South Bend


  • Cedar Rapids
  • Des Moines



  • Louisville


  • Baton Rouge
  • New Orleans (MSY) (previously a focus city immediately following the merger of North Central Airlines and Southern Airways in 1979) [27]
  • Shreveport


  • Baltimore





  • Gulfport/Biloxi
  • Meridian
  • Pascagoula - served via Mobile, AL


  • Kansas City
  • Saint Louis


  • Omaha


New York

North Dakota

  • Bismarck
  • Fargo
  • Grand Forks
  • Minot



  • Oklahoma City
  • Tulsa


  • Portland


  • Erie
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh

South Dakota

  • Rapid City
  • Sioux Falls




Washington, D.C. / Virginia

Washington state


  • Appleton
  • Eau Claire
  • Green Bay
  • La Crosse
  • Madison
  • Milwaukee (MKE) (previously a focus city immediately following the merger of North Central Airlines and Southern Airways in 1979) [28]
  • Wausau



Cayman Islands

  • Grand Cayman


  • Cancun
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Mazatlan
  • Guadalajara


The airline had a high safety rating, but incurred a passenger fatality in 1983 when a section of propeller blade entered the cabin of Flight 927 at Brainerd, Minnesota on Sunday, January 9.[29] Arriving from Minneapolis in sleet and snow showers at 7:40 p.m., the Convair 580 skidded off the right edge of the runway and the right propeller struck a snowbank. Three other passengers were injured, one seriously.[30][31] Following this incident, the airline had a number of close calls in 1983.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 30, 1985. 111.
  2. ^ "Fort Snelling UT, Hennepin county, Minnesota Archived 2012-01-19 at WebCite." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on December 19, 2009.
  3. ^ Niemela, Jennifer. "Delta reaches deal on Minnesota jobs." Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal. Tuesday December 16, 2008. Retrieved on January 19, 2012.
  4. ^ "Republic looking at Airwest". Milwaukee Journal. (Los Angeles Times). March 12, 1980. p. 17.
  5. ^ "North Central, Southern Airlines merger gets final OK from Carter". Milwaukee Senitnel. UPI. June 5, 1979. p. 5-part 2.
  6. ^ "Republic Airlines gets CAB approval for Hughes merger". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. September 13, 1980. p. 7-part 2.
  7. ^ "Republic Airlines takes over Hughes Airwest on October 1". Deseret News. UPI. September 18, 1980. p. 10B.
  8. ^ Hengi, B.I. (2000). Airlines Remembered: Over 200 Airlines of the Past, Described and Illustrated in Colour. Midland. ISBN 9781857800913.
  9. ^ a b Daniell, Tina (January 24, 1986). "Northwest takes a big step toward ensuring survival". Milwaukee Journal. p. 5-part 3.
  10. ^ "Spokane losing Republic air service". Spokesman-Review. Spokane. February 3, 1983. p. 1.
  11. ^ Sussman, Lawrence (December 15, 1981). "Republic's financial woes leave Milwaukee vulnerable". Milwaukee Journal. p. 12-part 2.
  12. ^ Grant, Linda (January 30, 1982). "Airline industry may be teetering on the brink of disaster". Anchorage Daily News. (Los Angeles Times). p. E2.
  13. ^ a b "Turbulent times for Republic Airlines". Ocala Star-Banner. Associated Press. August 30, 1983. p. 2D.
  14. ^ "Duck the issue? Airline promoters try anything". Free-Lance Star. Fredericksburg, VA. Associated Press. April 8, 1982. p. 5.
  15. ^ Ehrenhalt, Lizzie (December 19, 2011). "The amazing journey of Herman the Duck, Minnesota's goofiest historic artifact". Twin Cities Daily Planet. Minnesota Historical Society.
  16. ^ "Republic cuts service to Des Moines". Daily Reporter. Spencer, IA. Associated Press. October 12, 1984. p. 6A.
  17. ^, September 1, 1980 Hughes Airwest system route map and March 2, 1986 Republic Airlines system route map
  18. ^ "Northwest Orient will buy Republic to become third largest airline". Deseret News. UPI. January 24, 1986. p. 4A.
  19. ^ "Pan Am's sacrifice ends aviation era". Milwaukee Journal. (New York Times). February 11, 1986. p. 6-part 3.
  20. ^ "Republic deal delayed". Milwaukee Sentinel. April 29, 1986. p. 13-part 4.
  21. ^ "Northwest-Republic merger creates third-largest carrier". Miami News. Associated Press. August 1, 1986. p. 9A.
  22. ^ "Two airlines get approval for merger". Eugene Register-Guard. August 1, 1986. p. 1C.
  23. ^ Walters, Robert (October 2, 1986). "Trend toward monopolizing of the skies". Waycross Journal-Herald. p. P-3.
  24. ^, March 2, 1986 Republic Airlines system route map
  25. ^ a b c d e, Dec. 1, 1980 Republic Airlines system route map
  26. ^ a b c d, July 1, 1979 Republic Airlines system route map
  27. ^, July 1, 1979 Republic Airlines system timetable
  28. ^, July 1, 1979 Republic Airlines system roure map
  29. ^ "Plane slides off runway; woman killed". Milwaukee Sentinel. (wire services). January 10, 1983. p. 2-part 1.
  30. ^ "1 passenger dies, 3 hurt as plane skids off runway". Milwaukee Journal. UPI. January 10, 1983. p. 4-part 1.
  31. ^ NTSB Accident Report NTSB-AR-83-08, October 18, 1983, p. 1-2

External links[edit]