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Republic Airlines (1979-1986)


Republic Airlines (1979-1986)

This article is about the Republic Airlines that was founded in 1979, and purchased by Northwest Airlines. For the Republic Airlines that is currently operating, see Republic Airlines.
Republic Airlines
Founded July 1, 1979
Ceased operations September 30, 1986
(merged with Northwest)
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program Perks Program
Fleet size 171
Company slogan Nobody Serves Our Republic Like Republic
Headquarters Minneapolis-St. Paul
International Airport

Fort Snelling, Minnesota
Republic Airlines
Fate purchased
Predecessor(s) North Central Airlines,
Southern Airways,
Hughes Airwest
Successor(s) Northwest Airlines
Founded July 1, 1979
(Wisconsin Central – 1944,
name change to North Central on December 16, 1952)
Defunct September 30, 1986
Headquarters Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.

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 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. They had the world's largest Douglas DC-9 fleet, with DC-9-10, DC-9-30 and DC-9-50s and also Boeing 727-200, Boeing 757-200 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jets. They also had 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]

Northwest Airlines

In 1986 Northwest Orient Airlines announced on January 23 that they would buy Republic for $884 million[9][17] in response to United Airlines' purchase of the Pacific routes of Pan American World Airways and to provide domestic feed.[18] Opposed by the Justice Department,[19] the Northwest-Republic merger was approved by the Transportation Department on July 31[20][21] and was completed on October 1, with Northwest dropping the word Orient from their name after the merger.[22] Republic's hubs at Minneapolis, Memphis, and Detroit became the backbone of Northwest's domestic network.

Despite Northwest's efforts to remove all Republic imagery, it is still possible to find a few Republic logos at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and Memphis International Airport. The logos can no longer be seen at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport because Northwest's old terminal has been demolished. Northwest later merged with Delta Air Lines in 2008; the deal was finalized in January 2010, with Delta as the surviving name.



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.[23] 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.[24][25] Following this incident, the airline had a number of close calls in 1983.[13]


External links

  • Fleet and code information
  • Fleet information
  • Republic Airlines historical artifacts - inventory list of items stored at the Minnesota Historical Society
  • Aviation Safety Network – Republic Airlines

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