Mesa Air Group has taken responsibility for part of the lease payments on some 30 idle Fairchild Dornier 328Jets as a condition of its new code-share contract with Delta Air Lines. Scheduled to start Delta Connection service with five Embraer ERJ 145s next month, Mesa doesn’t plan to fly the German-built regional jets but sublease them to other airlines.
A last-ditch attempt to stave off bankruptcy by Delta Air Lines has seen St. George, Utah-based SkyWest agree to buy Delta Connection subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA). Scheduled for completion this month, the $425 million deal will make SkyWest by far the largest regional airline in the U.S., giving it a combined fleet of 372 airplanes, projected annual enplanements of more than 28 million and 13,400 employees.
When the nation’s news media rounded up the pundits to comment on the possible causes of the August 27 crash of Comair Flight 5191, many could conjure reasonable speculation about why the 50-seat Bombardier CRJ100 jet lined up on Lexington Blue Grass Airport’s 3,500-foot Runway 26 rather than the main, 7,000-foot, Runway 22.
Delta AirElite, the Cincinnati-based executive charter and management company that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, had a record year, according to president and CEO Michael Green, but faces the prospect of being sold by the airline. The parent company has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since September 14 and has reportedly lost $11 billion over the last four years.
The pilots of Northwest Airlines have threatened to strike if management proceeds with plans to launch a new regional airline as proposed in a newsletter distributed to the company’s 34,000 employees last month. Tentatively named NewCo, the new unit would replace Northwest’s DC-9s with one hundred five 77- to 100-seat jets flying as a Northwest Airlink affiliate.
ExpressJet began shopping in earnest for a new mainline partner last month as Continental Airlines prepared to ask for bids from other regional airlines to fly roughly a quarter of the Continental Express network. Continental formally notified ExpressJet that it planned to withdraw 69 of the 274 Embraer regional jets from their capacity purchase agreement after the sides failed to reach terms on a new service contract.
Northwest Airlines has extended the deadline for regional partner Pinnacle Airlines to pay another $21.7 million in aircraft sublease security deposits to April 15, as the sides continue to negotiate the terms of “their future business relationship.” In September Northwest requested that Pinnacle pay the additional funds by March 1, but the Memphis-based regional has refused.
A tentative labor accord reached last month between Northwest Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association includes scope-clause language that would allow the airline to establish a new regional subsidiary, but only to fly airplanes certified to carry between 51 and 76 seats.
Delta Air Lines’ planned expansion at New York JFK Airport this summer will include a new three-year code-share deal with Mesa Air Group to fly twelve 37-seat de Havilland Dash 8-200 turboprops from the Big Apple.
While at first it seemed hard to reconcile the rather dark and anxious mood of last year’s RAA Convention in Cincinnati with double-digit profit margins and record revenues, by the end of the three-day event it became clear to everyone what regional airline executives had seen coming for years.