Mesaba Airlines expected to exit bankruptcy during the last week of April, following the approval of its reorganization plan by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Gregory Kishel. The Minneapolis-based Northwest Airlines affiliate filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2005, a month after the major airline itself filed for Chapter 11 and defaulted on its service contract payments to Mesaba.
Northwest Airlines’ newest regional subsidiary, Compass Airlines, planned to launch twice-daily service on May 2 between Minneapolis and Washington Dulles International Airport.
This year’s RAA Convention couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time and place for Memphis, Tenn.’s hometown airline. The proud new owner of a second operating subsidiary and revamped service contract with Northwest Airlines, Pinnacle Airlines has officially shed the manacles of a highly restrictive code-share deal and joined the open market for regional services.
Airline travelers on Delta, Northwest and other airlines operating under bankruptcy protection might face longer lines, delays and fuller and less frequent flights, but it’s “business as usual” at Delta’s business jet charter arm, Delta AirElite, according to a spokesman. “There will be no affect on our ability to serve our charter, membership or aircraft management customers,” he said.
The Air Line Pilots Association finally appears ready to play ball with Northwest Airlines as the Minneapolis-based company pushes for a new deal to allow 70-seat jets to fly within the Northwest Airlink regional network. But, as usual, ALPA has its own ideas about where those airplanes fit within the system and has proposed a separate division that would look conspicuously like US Airways’ MidAtlantic unit.
Riley Investment Management principal John Ahn has won a seat on the board of Mesaba Airlines parent MAIR Holdings in exchange for abandoning his plans to call a special shareholders meeting to increase the size of the company’s board to 10 members and change the company’s bylaws.
Manassas, Va.-based Colgan Air will fly fifteen 74-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprops under a 10-year capacity purchase agreement that Colgan’s new owner, Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines, signed with Continental Airlines last month. The deal will see Colgan fly the new airplanes, scheduled for delivery from this December through June of next year, from Continental’s Newark, N.J. hub starting next January.
Northwest Airlines pilots last month voted to allow Northwest Airlink partner Pinnacle Airlines to add more 50-seat regional jets to its fleet and open talks over a new pay scale for 70-seat regional jets at the mainline. Part of a concessionary contract that calls for a 15-percent pay cut among pilots and management, the new deal will allow Pinnacle to convert its remaining orders and options on 44-seat Bombardier CRJs to 50-seat CRJ200s.
United Airlines has asked for requests for proposal (RFP) from 10 regional airlines to fly up to 70 regional jets on routes now controlled by Appleton, Wis.-based Air Wisconsin. The 10 airlines include all of United’s existing partners, as well as Independence Air–the former United Express carrier turned low-fare competitor to UAL at Washington Dulles and Chicago O’Hare Airports.
The recent run of big orders for new turboprops has no doubt lifted the spirits of the two remaining builders of prop-driven airliners.