When UAL Corp., the parent company of United Airlines, announced in May that it would enter the business aviation market with creation of a new subsidiary to be known as United BizJet Holdings for the time being, it was big news. And it was assumed by some that this was the first venture into business aviation by a major airline. Wrong!
A festering animosity between regional airline pilot groups and the Air Line Pilots Association showed no sign of subsiding last month, as nearly 300 Comair pilots asked to join a pending lawsuit against the union while pilots from US Airways subsidiary Allegheny Airlines picketed outside ALPA’s Washington headquarters.
The insidious and far-reaching effects of the WorldCom debacle hit home for Mesaba Airlines, as the Minneapolis-based Northwest Airlink partner watched its devalued bond holdings in the beleaguered communications company shrink its first quarter 2003 income by $2.7 million. As a result, the company’s net income for the quarter ending June 30 totaled $1.6 million, compared with $4.7 million during the same period last year.
Pilots from two different regional airlines lost their jobs for alcohol-related offenses over the span of two weeks, further adding to an undercurrent of public suspicion produced by the July 1 arrest of two America West pilots for the same reason. On July 28 airport officials removed an ASA first officer from a scheduled flight from Wilmington, N.C., to Atlanta after a TSA security screener claimed to smell alcohol on his breath.
Delta Connection regional carriers Atlantic Southeast Airlines and Comair have exercised options for a total of two CRJ200s and one CRJ700 regional jet from Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier. The transaction is valued at about $73.24 million and brings to six the number of option conversions that Delta Connection carriers have executed this year.
The world’s most commercially successful line of regional jets added a pair of new blemishes to its technical record late this spring, when both wholly owned Delta Connection subsidiaries confronted some unsettling moments during scheduled CRJ operations.
Indianapolis-based Chautauqua Airlines added its fourth code-share contract last month when it inked a 10-year deal with Delta Air Lines to fly at least 22 Embraer regional jets from Orlando, Fla., as Delta Connection.
Another truss fell from Fairchild Dornier’s tenuous financial footing last month, as potential suitor Bombardier Aerospace declared that it no longer harbored any interest in investing in the foundering 728 and 928 programs. The timing of the decision came as a surprise, given Bombardier president and CEO Robert Brown’s prior indications that the company’s commercial analysis would last until at least late this month.
It didn’t take long for Mesa Air Group’s seemingly innocuous new code-share deal with United Airlines to raise far wider implications, as Mesa chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein last month launched a bid to spread his company’s influence beyond its already substantial breadth with an overture to buy Atlantic Coast Airlines.
Northwest Airlines is considering exercising its right to terminate the Avro RJ85 agreement under which Mesaba leases and operates 36 of the four-engine jets, according to the Minneapolis-based regional airline. Under the terms of a 1996 regional jet services agreement between Northwest and Mesaba, Northwest can end the agreement by giving notice to Mesaba on or before October 28 this year.