Smaller aircraft–specifically regional jets–are often blamed for delays in the National Airspace System, said Mesa Air Group chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein, in a recent speech at the Washington Aero Club, but he argues that “playing the blame game” takes focus off the need to expand airport capacity and continue to modernize the ATC system.
Mesa Air Group
Transcripts released by the FAA early last month reveal that the pilots of the Pinnacle Airlines CRJ200 that crashed in Jefferson City, Mo., on October 18 purposely climbed to 41,000 feet to “have a little fun” before the jet, its 50 passenger seats empty, lost power and began a rapid descent. “We don’t have any passengers on board so we decided to have a little fun and come on up here,” said one of the pilots.
Mesa Air Group last month won the rights to the assets of bankrupt Midway Airlines after outbidding Connecticut-based investment firm Wexford Capital by some $550,000.
A new code-share contract signed last month by St. George, Utah-based SkyWest to fly from Milwaukee and Kansas City as Midwest Connect stands as the centerpiece of Midwest Airlines’ strategy to fend off a hostile buyout overture from AirTran Airways. The deal, scheduled to take effect in April, calls for SkyWest to fly 25 Bombardier CRJ200s, the first 15 arriving by this November.
Mesa Air Group will help establish a new Chinese regional airline under a contract it signed in late December with China’s Shenzhen Airlines. The deal gives Mesa a 25-percent stake in the new company, expected to launch service by the end of the year with 50-seat regional jets. The 500 million yuan ($64 million) venture gives Shenzhen Airlines a 51-percent stake as required by Chinese law and Delaware-based Wilmington Trust Corp.
Jonathan Ornstein rarely goes more than a few weeks without making headlines in the aviation press, but the fiery CEO of Mesa Air Group outdid himself last year with the launch of his new Go! subsidiary in Hawaii.
Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) pilots on December 15 picketed the company’s newest flight crew base, at Los Angeles International Airport, to protest the lack of progress in their contract talks with management.
Honolulu-based de Havilland Dash 8 operator Island Air suffered the first serious casualty of Mesa Air Group’s incursion into Hawaii last month when CEO Rob Mauraucher announced he planned to furlough or lay off 65 full-time employees, remove two aircraft from service and eliminate five of the regional airline’s 17 routes.
The Air Line Pilots Association last month issued a vote of no confidence in the management of Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group due to what union leadership characterized as slowing growth and rapidly mounting operational problems.
Bombardier Aerospace’s decision to suspend its long beleaguered C Series has naturally raised questions about what direction the company will take now that it has spent more than a year and $100 million on a still undefined program.