||This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2009)|
|Commenced operations||October 12, 1980|
As United Express:
|Parent company||Mesa Air Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: MESA)|
|Headquarters||Phoenix, Arizona, USA|
|Key people||Jonathan G. Ornstein (CEO)|
Mesa Airlines, Inc. is an American regional airline based in Phoenix, Arizona. It is a FAA Part 121 certificated air carrier operating under air carrier certificate number MASA036A issued on June 29, 1979. It is a subsidiary of Mesa Air Group. It was known briefly as Mountain West Airlines from 1995 to 1996. It operates flights as United Express, US Airways Express, and under the brand go! for flights within the Hawaiian Islands. It serves more than 180 markets in the Western Hemisphere. Mesa's safety record was noted as having the fewest incidents among domestic regional airlines in the Journal of Air Transportation. In March 2011, Mesa emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Mesa filed for Chapter 11 in January 2010, hoping to shed financial obligations for leases on airplanes it no longer needed. The time that Mesa spent in bankruptcy was one of the shortest time periods in aviation history.
Mesa Airlines operates as:
From 1989 to 1998, Mesa Airlines operated as a conglomeration of up to eight separate airlines. For the history of the acquisition and expansion of Mesa Airlines during this time frame see Mesa Air Group. The following history section details the history of the individual airlines that comprised Mesa Airlines during this time frame:
The original Mesa Airlines operation was founded by Larry and Jane Risley of Farmington, New Mexico, as the flight division of JB Aviation in 1980. In 1982, it began service as Mesa Air Shuttle. Over the next five years it established a presence in New Mexico and built its Albuquerque hub. It eventually expanded into a hub in Phoenix. In 1992, when Mesa established a code share with America West Airlines, its Phoenix hub was turned over to the America West Express division.
In 1997, Mesa established a hub at Fort Worth Meacham International Airport, using two Bombardier CRJ aircraft, providing service from Fort Worth to San Antonio, Austin, Houston Hobby, and Colorado Springs. The venture was short-lived and the hub was eliminated during corporate restructuring. The Albuquerque hub was merged into Air Midwest.
In the late 1990s Mesa still had its headquarters in Farmington.
In September 1992, Mesa negotiated a code sharing agreement with America West Airlines to operate out of its Phoenix hub, serving 12 cities. These routes were originally from the independent Mesa operation. The code share allowed increased frequency and increased load factors and expansion into several new markets.
In 1997, Desert Sun Airlines was merged into this division and its Fokker 70 aircraft were replaced by Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft. The CRJ200 aircraft also began replacing the Beechcraft 1900 as the 1900s were transitioned over to Mesa's Air Midwest subsidiary. Beginning in December 1997, Mesa began operating Bombardier Dash 8–200 aircraft between Phoenix and Grand Junction. In 2003, Mesa Airlines took over the operations of Freedom Airlines and Freedom Airlines' CRJ900s were transferred into the America West Express operation.
On September 16, 2005, America West Airlines and US Airways completed their merger. Although the corporate side and operationally, those companies merged, as of May 2008, the two flight operations have not been merged and Mesa continues to code share with the new US Airways Group as US Airways Express under its America West Express code share agreement. It operated CRJ200 and CRJ900 aircraft from hubs in Charlotte and Phoenix, and Dash 8 aircraft from its Phoenix hub until late 2011, when during Mesa's restructuring in bankruptcy, coinciding with United's cancelation of any further CRJ 200 service by Mesa, the CRJ 200's and Dash 8's were removed from service. By early 2012, the only airframe Mesa uses for the "west" side of US Airways out of its Phoenix hub and the "East" side out of its Charlotte hub is with the CRJ 900.
In November 1997, Mesa negotiated a code share agreement to provide service to US Airways as US Airways Express for 14 turbojets to various cities from its Philadelphia and Charlotte hubs. In 1998 and 2000, the agreement was expanded to 28 jets and then to 52 jets. The first CRJ200 aircraft began operating in 1998. As Mesa began taking deliveries of the Embraer ERJ 145 aircraft in 2000, the CRJs were transferred to the America West division, separating the fleet types.
In 2003, 20 CRJ200 aircraft were reintroduced to the US Airways Express division. With the reintroduction of the CRJ, the CRJ200 aircraft operated out of the Philadelphia hub, and the ERJ-145 aircraft operated out of the Charlotte hub.
In 2005, Mesa's code share agreement with US Airways was not reaffirmed in bankruptcy court, and Mesa began transitioning the aircraft to other code shares. Twenty-six ERJ aircraft were transitioned to Freedom Airlines, and the CRJ and remaining ERJs were transferred to Mesa's United Express operation. However, following the America West Airlines merger later that year, the Mesa contract for America West Express was retained and expanded to include non-former America West Express routes.
In 1990, Mesa acquired Aspen Airways Denver hub and routes, except for Aspen's Denver to Aspen route. It attempted to acquire Aspen's code share with United, however United was unwilling to code share with an airline that only operated 19-seat turboprops. Mesa leased Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia aircraft from its former competitor in New Mexico, Air Midwest. With the Brasilias in hand, Mesa gained a code share with United for its Denver hub.
In 1995, California Pacific and its Los Angeles hub was merged into Mesa's United Express operation. After the closing of Superior Airlines' Columbus hub, its aircraft and crews were used to expand United Express into Portland and Seattle. In 1997, operational difficulties with the Denver hub and disagreements over the renewal of Mesa's WestAir subsidiary code share with United resulted in the cancellation of Mesa's code share.
In 2003, Mesa agreed to a service agreement with United for service out of their hubs at Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, and Washington-Dulles under the United Express banner. In October 2009 United decided to exercise its early termination option for the Dash 8 flying. The Dash 8 flying ended on April 30, 2010. Around the same time, United decided not to extend its CRJ200 operation and as a result, all of the Mesa CRJ200s (26 aircraft) flying under United Express were phased out by April 30, 2010.
The Skyway Airlines division was Mesa's first foray into the Midwest. Skyway was formed in 1989 when Mesa established a code share agreement with Midwest Express and a Milwaukee hub. From Milwaukee, Mesa served 25 cities in nine states in the upper Midwest region, using Beechcraft 1900 aircraft. Upon expiration of the code share in 1994, it was not renewed. Midwest Express kept the Skyway Airlines name and routes, forming Astral Airways to fill the void as Mesa ceased service in Milwaukee. Mesa reallocated the aircraft and crews to start Superior Airlines in its Columbus hub for America West Express.
The FloridaGulf Airlines division was formed in 1991 after Mesa's acquisition of Air Midwest. Air Midwest's CEO, Robert Priddy, was chosen to start up the operation. It operated under a code share agreement with US Airways and was a US Airways Express carrier. It started with a Tampa hub, providing service to Florida and the southeast United States using Beechcraft 1900 aircraft. Additional hubs in Orlando and New Orleans were established. In 1993, the airline expanded into the Northeast, with a hub in Boston and eventually Philadelphia. In 1994, six Embraer EMB 120 aircraft were added. By the time it was merged into Air Midwest, in 1997, it was operating 44 Beechcraft 1900 and 9 Embraer EMB 120 aircraft serving 49 destinations.
After the Skyway Airlines division ceased operation, Mesa allocated the aircraft and crews and formed Superior Airlines in 1994 to provide service from a Columbus hub for America West Express. By 2000 the aircraft and crews, which consisted of CRJ200s (CL-65s), were being operated by Mesa Airlines itself. America West Airlines closed its Columbus hub in 2003 and Mesa again reallocated the assets this time to its newly reacquired United Express operation.
Mesa created CalPac (California Pacific) in 1993, establishing a United Express carrier with a Los Angeles hub. It utilized Beechcraft 1900 and Embraer EMB 120 aircraft to serve 12 destinations. In 1995, the airline division was merged into Mesa's United Express operation.
In 1994, Mesa acquired Pittsburgh-based Crown Airways. Using the acquired assets, Mesa established Liberty Express with its hub in Pittsburgh and a code share with US Airways. In 1997, it was merged into Air Midwest, operating 14 Beechcraft 1900 aircraft serving 17 destinations.
The Desert Sun Airlines division was created in 1995 to inaugurate Mesa's first jet service utilizing Fokker 70 aircraft. It operated as America West Express from a Phoenix hub. The first two cities to receive jet service were Spokane and Des Moines. In 1996, the division was merged into Mesa's America West Express operation, and the Fokker 70 aircraft were replaced by Bombardier CRJ aircraft as they were introduced.
In 2006, Mesa formed go! in the Hawaiian Islands, using 5 Bombardier CRJ aircraft from its Honolulu hub. It established a code share with Mokulele Airlines, which served airports that cannot accept jet aircraft and provide point-to-point service in between the islands with Cessna Caravan turboprops. The codeshare with Mokulele was later replaced by one with Island Air, which was itself later replaced by a joint venture with Mokulele dubbed go! Mokulele. Mesa currently operate 6 CRJ's in Hawaii under the go! operation.
Mesa's go! has been involved in multiple lawsuits with Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Airlines and was also investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration for an incident on February 13, 2008 where both pilots fell asleep during a regularly scheduled 36 minute flight between Honolulu and Hilo. go!'s flight 1002 overshot Hilo Airport by 15 miles (24 km), remaining 21,000 feet (6,400 m) in the air as they missed the destination. Air traffic controllers were unable to reach the two pilots for 25 minutes, after which contact was re-established and the aircraft returned for a safe landing in Hilo.
Mesa's go! was also blamed for the March 31, 2008 shutdown of Aloha Airlines due to "predatory fares".
Kunpeng Airlines was formed as a joint venture between Mesa Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines of China. They began flying in October 2007 with 3 Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft and currently have 5 in China. The airline originally expected to operate 20 CRJ's prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and plan to expand at a rate of 20 aircraft per year for the next 5 years. All pilots would have been based in Beijing or Xian and the airline initially was to fly to 16 regional airports. Mesa intended to replace the outgoing CRJ200s with larger regional jets such as the CRJ700 and CRJ900. Kunpeng has recently decided to delay delivery of CRJ200 in favor of brand new Embraer E-190. All of the Mesa aircraft are being returned.
Furthermore, as of June 2009, Mesa no longer has a financial interest in Kunpeng Airlines, as Shenzhen Airlines purchased Mesa's interest in the original joint venture.
As of January 2013, the Mesa Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft:
|Bombardier CRJ200||5||—||—||—||50||50||(4) go!||1 plane is unbranded|
|Bombardier CRJ700||20||—||6||28||32||66||United Express|
|Bombardier CRJ900||42||9||9||—||70||79||US Airways Express|
On October 16, 2001, an EMB 145 was on final approach to Roanoke, Virginia. The captain had briefed a "no go-around" for a night visual approach to a "Special Airport." The approach was not stabilized, and the airspeed decreased to the point of a stall. The airplane struck the runway in a nose high pitch attitude, the aft fuselage struck the runway first then settled on the landing gear. The first officer made initial callouts of slow airspeed and then stopped when the captain failed to respond to her callouts. After landing, the airplane was taxied to the gate where a post flight inspection limited to the main landing gear did not find the damage to the tail section. The incident was not reported by either pilots to the Company and the airplane was allowed to be flown by the next crew the following morning on its scheduled service back to Charlotte, NC where a post flight inspection revealed the tail strike. When interviewed, the captain first denied having been involve in a hard landing and speculated that the tail strike must have been the result of an over rotation on takeoff from the morning crew. When faced with the CVR and FDR data, she eventually admitted to the incident. She reported that she briefed "no go-around" because no takeoffs were authorized on the runway at night or in IMC conditions; however, the first officer knew this was incorrect, but did not challenge the captain. Both pilots had received CRM training, which included crewmember assertiveness, methods of fostering crew input, and situational awareness, and training on special use airports; however it was not followed by either pilot. The captain said the first officer was passive and quiet. The first officer reported the captain was defensive and did not take criticism very well. It is remarkable that the damage to the tail section was not discovered during the preflight visual inspection performed by the morning flight or ground crews. The aircraft had an MELed APU and needed the engines to be started with the assistance of an external air cart. The connection for the air cart is located at the aft bottom fuselage section where the damages were visible. The access panel was in fact bent. Yet the ground crew did not notify the flight deck crew. When the walk around visual inspection was performed by the morning crew's first officer, it was performed during the hours of darkness with the help of a flashlight. The air cart was already connected and forced the first officer to walk around the cart and away from the aircraft, missing the tail strike damages.
On February 13, 2008, the pilots of a go! CRJ200 fell asleep and overshot their destination airport by 26 nautical miles (48 km; 30 mi) before Air Traffic Control was able to make contact with the aircraft. The incident happened on the third consecutive day during which the pilots had been required to start duty at 0540 am. The captain suffered from an undiagnosed severe sleep apnea. The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause of this incident as follows: "The captain and first officer inadvertently falling asleep during the cruise phase of flight. Contributing to the incident were the captain's undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea and the flight crew’s recent work schedules, which included several consecutive days of early-morning start times."
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