Seemingly bucking the trend suffered by most of the rest of the regional airline industry, Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group has managed to attract a fair share of qualified pilots to accommodate its seemingly unlikely growth. But while speaking Wednesday at this year’s Regional Airline Association Convention in St. Louis, CEO Jonathan Ornstein made certain to ensure no one came away from the briefing with any doubt about his position on the new legislation that requires new hire first officers to carry an air transport pilot certificate.
Mesa Air Group closed its Hawaii-based go! operation on April 1 following some eight years of financial struggles. According to Mesa, the decision stemmed from a desire to concentrate its resources on its now growing mainland operations and minimize its exposure to “at risk” flying. Before the cessation of Hawaiian operations, capacity purchase code-share agreements accounted for 98 percent of the group’s business.
Mesa Airlines moved to position itself to add 30 new Embraer E175s over the next year into United Express service with some key management changes announced in late January.
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.
Mesa Air Group inked an eight-year deal with US Airways to add another nine aircraft to its fleet of 38 Bombardier CRJ900s, the airline announced in late February.
Hawaii’s Island Air signed a letter of intent with Chicago’s Aerway Leasing last month to lease five ATR 42s, the first two of which the airline expects to arrive in Honolulu by the end of this year and the final three next summer.
As Hawaii’s Island Air enters a whole new phase of life this summer with the roll-out of a complete image and brand overhaul, half a world away Franco-Italian airframe maker ATR can add another regional carrier to its growing list of turboprop operators. By around the start of next month the long-time de Havilland Dash 8 operator officially begins the process of trading equipment allegiances with delivery of its first ex-American Eagle ATR 72-212, now undergoing a C-Check at Premier Aviation in Trois Rivieres, Quebec.
China’s first private regional airline, China Express, based in Guiyang, has finalized a $264 million deal for six Bombardier CRJ900 NextGen regional jets. The value could rise to $491 million if the carrier, which will become the first to operate NextGen models in the country, exercises options for five more of the jets. Its current fleet consists of five Bombardier 50-seat CRJ200s.
Jonathan Ornstein began his career in 1987, working at Los Angeles-based Air LA, a small commuter carrier where he did everything from finance to aircraft cleaning. He moved over to Mesa Air in 1989, where he served as assistant to founder, president and CEO Larry Risley. He worked his way up to executive vice president, and then became president and CEO of Continental Express and senior vice president of airport operations for Continental. He then moved to Brussels, Belgium, to work with Sir Richard Branson to create Virgin Express.
Canada’s Bombardier identified China Express Airlines as a customer for its CRJ900 regional jet last week during Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to Beijing for the Canada China Business Forum. The conditional order for six dual-class-configured CRJ900s plus options on another five, signed late last year, will give Bombardier its first sale of a new commercial airplane in China in “eight or nine years.”
- Page 1