Big Sky Airlines will operate as a subsidiary of Mesaba Holdings by year-end if the Billings, Mont.-based Fairchild Metro III operator meets “certain labor conditions” set by its would-be parent company from Minneapolis. The proposed merger would create a new division within Mesaba Holdings, flying under an operating certificate and labor contracts separate from Mesaba Aviation.
Largely obscured by the preoccupation with new security directives inspired by September 11, the debate over the FAA’s now binding interpretation of a long-standing pilot duty-time rule appears to have run its course. In fact, traffic declines have rendered the issue moot at major airlines, where pilot furloughs have left many longing for the days when duty times approached the 16-hr limit set by the FAA.
Northwest Airlines is considering exercising its right to terminate the Avro RJ85 agreement under which Mesaba leases and operates 36 of the four-engine jets, according to the Minneapolis-based regional airline. Under the terms of a 1996 regional jet services agreement between Northwest and Mesaba, Northwest can end the agreement by giving notice to Mesaba on or before October 28 this year.
The relationship between Pinnacle Airlines and its pilot group turned from frosty to malevolent last month as the Memphis-based regional filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). Pinnacle claims that bad-faith bargaining on the part of ALPA has unnecessarily stalled negotiations and resulted in the loss of 17 of its 50-seat jets and a chance to fly 76-seat jets for Northwest Airlines.
Atlantic Coast Airlines last month petitioned a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge to force United Airlines to reveal its plans for the continuation of the ACA’s United Express contract by February 28. Operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy since December 9, United could reject or maintain the terms of the current agreement.
Just when it looked as if the image of the regional airline industry escaped relatively unscathed from last year’s spate of accidents, the crash of two more regional airliners in Missouri last month thrust it right back into the glare of public scrutiny. The first, involving a Pinnacle Airlines Bombardier CRJ200 on October 14, killed the two pilots flying the airplane on a positioning flight from Little Rock, Ark., to Minneapolis.
Russ Meyer, chairman of Cessna, and two other top aviation executives were named members of the FAA’s Management Advisory Council, created in 1996 to assist the agency in operating as a performance-based business. The other new members are Charles Bolden, Jr., senior v-p of tech at Trans International, and Philip Trenary, president and CEO of Pinnacle Airlines.
Memphis-based Northwest Airlines subsidiary Express Airlines I on May 8 officially changed its name to Pinnacle Airlines ahead of an initial public offering expected to raise $400 million.
Bombardier landed the first regional jet sale to a U.S. carrier this year when Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines converted options to firm orders on three 50-seat CRJ200s last month. The order, valued at some $68.7 million, brings to 237 the number of 50-seat CRJs ordered by ASA and fellow Delta subsidiary Comair, of which 191 have been delivered and another 46 remain on backlog.
The board of directors of Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines has elected company president and CEO Phil Trenary to join the seven-member board. Currently chairman of the RAA, Trenary joined Pinnacle Airlines on April 1, 1997, after a 12-year stint as head of Lone Star Airlines, the San Antonio-based Fairchild Metro operator he established in 1984. Trenary also serves as a director of EnVectra Hazardous Waste Management and Bancorp South.