Mesa Back in RAA

 - May 5, 2013, 5:00 AM

Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group has rejoined the Regional Airline Association (RAA) after a 12-year absence. Mesa’s admission increases the RAA’s airline membership rolls to 27 carriers operating half of all U.S. commercial flights.

The RAA last counted Mesa as a member in 2001, when the airline’s outspoken CEO, Jonathan Ornstein, announced plans to start a new lobbying organization called Regional Aviation Partners at that year’s RAA Convention. Calling the RAA’s former team of leaders “total political animals, more concerned with Washington cocktail parties than making a real difference,” Ornstein at the time criticized the RAA for its lack of effectiveness in winning support for air service to small communities and for what he perceived as the association’s apathy toward the plight of small, independently owned member airlines.

Ornstein’s concerns stemmed directly from the losses generated by Mesa’s 19-seat Beech 1900Ds, none of which it still operates. Its current fleet consists of five Bombardier CRJ200s, 20 CRJ700s and 40 CRJ900s.

“Mesa joining the RAA demonstrates the powerful voice our association offers our members and our industry,” said current RAA chairman and American Eagle CEO Dan Garton. “Our strong membership base and our Washington, D.C.-based staff help protect and communicate regional airline interests to government agencies and key stakeholders on a daily basis.”