Air Transport World

Republic Express takes route wars to forefront at Memphis hub.

Memphis--As founder and president of Republic Express, it was Michael Brady's day to smile. Often regarded as aggressive, sometimes brash, wily, yet smooth and charming, Brady made his way around the small reception here, warmly greeting local VIPs and passengers who had arrived via REX's first revenue Saab-Fairchild 340 flight from Jackson, Miss.

Civil War blockade runner Rhett Butler of Gone With the Wind fame couldn't have been more charming. Smiling broadly as he moved about his airline's gate at its hub airport, Memphis International, Brady employed a gentle manner to leave a strong impression on each person he met.

His airline had just completed its first month of operation, a month Brady claimed had ended profitably. And Jackson was the first expansion of REX's route system after its May 31 start of business. All in a (first) month's work. To get to that point, Brady successfully ran a series of blockades, economic and regulatory, much like the cavalier Butler ran past Yankee ships to supply the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

Memphis, with the addition of TEX, became fifth on a list of southern cities serving or planned as hubs in north-south route battles among major airlines. Republic Express has been tasked to support--and run interference for--its marketing ally, Republic Airlines, in these battles. Instead of relying on an incumbent to protect its flanks when it beefed up its Memphis presence, Republic tied up with a new, unencumbered regional able to strike swiftly in any direction. …

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