As Indianapolis-based Republic Airways continues to battle the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Executive Officer Bryan Bedford says he remains bullish on the long term future of the airline industry. “While this may be a one or two year delay in terms of the industry’s development, I believe in America, I believe in consumers who desire to travel and gain experiences, both domestically and globally,” said Bedford.
Bedford talked about the challenges brought on by the pandemic and what consumers can expect once the crisis is over on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
Republic has gone from more than 1,110 daily flights to less than 200 and Bedford says the dramatic reduction in service has made it difficult to maintain the airline’s more than 6,700 workers without federal assistance, which has been anticipated for more than a month.
Republic applied for federal aid at the end of March and anticipated receiving funds in early April from the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act that was passed by Congress March 27, but so far hasn’t received any money.
“We’ve been in deep discussions with the Treasury Department, trying to resolve outstanding issues,” said Bedford, “and I think we are close, so we remain optimistic we will see those funds in the not too distant future.”
Bedford also said as Governor Eric Holcomb continues to lift restrictions and opens up the state, the airline’s innovative Leadership in Flight Training, or LIFT Academy, will reopen quickly.
Republic invested heavily in the pilot training school, the only one in the United States owned by an airline, in an effort to stem a significant pilot shortage. “Long term, the LIFT Academy will be a competitive advantage for us,” said Bedford, who adds the airline’s corporate training center in Indy will also be resuming operations.