Regionals Update: Mesa returns to Denver next month

 - May 29, 2008, 7:52 AM

Mesa Air Group’s recently signed code-share agreement with Frontier Airlines calls for the Phoenix-based regional airline to begin flights from Denver International Airport to San Jose, Calif., and Houston as Frontier JetExpress, starting February 17. The 8:45 a.m. flight to San Jose will mark Mesa’s first operation as a tenant of Denver International since May 31, 1998, when United Airlines stripped the airline of its long-standing code-share contract and roughly half of its passenger base.  

Mesa will serve both destinations with a pair of 50-seat Bombardier CRJs, flying three daily round trips to San Jose and two round trips to Houston’s George Bush International Airport. Mesa chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein said he expected to field at least seven CRJs in Denver as Frontier JetExpress by the end of this year.

Until mid-1998, Mesa flew a fleet of de Havilland Dash 8-100s as United Express from Denver, but lost money there due to the high cost of the Canadian-built airplanes and exorbitant ground handling and ATC charges at DEN, according to Ornstein. After Mesa canceled certain money-losing routes, United stripped it of its code agreement, citing breach of contract and poor operational performance.