United Airlines wasted no time implementing contingency plans to replace services provided by soon-to-be estranged partner Atlantic Coast Airlines after a district court injunction prompted Mesa Air Group to drop its takeover bid for the Sterling, Va.-based regional. Last month the bankrupt major airline recruited St. George, Utah-based SkyWest Airlines to assume responsibility for Atlantic Coast’s ground-handling operations in Binghamton, N.Y., State College, Pa. and Nashville, Tenn. SkyWest expects to place 15 to 20 employees at each location and complete the transition in April.
Atlantic Coast provides ground service for United at 15 airports under its code-share contract, expected to end once UAL exits bankruptcy protection. In late December United scrapped plans to issue Mesa Air Group a new code-share contract covering Atlantic Coast’s entire network if Mesa’s takeover bid succeeded. United cited the court injunction, issued after the judge said ACA presented enough evidence to validate its claims that Mesa and United colluded to thwart its attempts to open a new discount airline from Dulles International Airport dubbed Independence Air.