Republic Airways to sell Frontier for $145 million

(Reuters) - Republic Airways Holdings Inc RJET.O said on Tuesday it would sell Frontier Airlines to private equity firm Indigo Partners LLC in a deal valued at about $145 million.

The agreement ends a two-year-long search by Indianapolis-based Republic to unload Frontier, which it bought out of bankruptcy in 2009.

Phoenix-based Indigo will pay $36 million in cash for the equity of Frontier Holdings and assume Frontier’s debt.

Republic, which provides regional service for bigger carriers such as Delta Air Lines Inc DAL.N and United Continental Holdings Inc UAL.N, has been restructuring Frontier over the past year to lower its costs.

Indigo is led by co-founder William Franke, who was chairman of low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines Inc SAVE.O.

“We endorse and will support continued efforts to build Frontier into a leading nationwide ultra-low cost carrier,” Franke said in a statement. “As airline fares continue to move up, passengers need affordable travel alternatives.”

The deal is subject to various approvals and is expected to close in December, Republic said.

Shares of Republic closed at $11.89 on the Nasdaq on Monday.

Reporting by Rohit T.K. in Bangalore and Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe