US ACMI provider Mesa Airlines has finalized an agreement with United Airlines that means it WILL fly largely exclusively for the Star Alliance member from next year. American Airlines had previously announced the termination.
The agreement also provides that United Airlines WILL have a 10 percent equity interest in Mesa. Financially, the regional carrier will initially be supported with 41.2 million US dollars. Furthermore, around 80 million US dollars are to be made available for additional engines. The Bombardier CRJ-900s currently in service with American Airlines will be flown for United Airlines in the future. The Embraer 175 aircraft, which are already being operated for UA, will remain in service.
For Mesa Airlines, the cooperation with the American competitor means that they will fly more or less exclusively for United Airlines in the future. This is also manifested with the equity participation. However, this also poses a risk, because if United should lose interest at some point and, like American Airlines, quit, you will hardly have any other customers. While it will continue to operate charter flights and ad hoc ACMI flights, its primary source of revenue will be United business.
During the recent current-quarter earnings call, Mesa CEO Jonathan Orstein said the contract will run for five years and will initially include 60 percent of the CRJ fleet, which American recently . However, there is a possibility that the volume can be increased later. In addition to existing crewing and maintenance centers in Phoenix, Dallas, El Paso and Louisville, Mesa, which is Denver and Houston, both of which are key United hubs, plans to be included in the list. The airline expects to expand its presence in the western states with the new bases as it plans to add more regional cities soon.
The executive added, “This is an important turnaround for the regional airline industry as we work to bring neglected smaller and rural markets – three-quarters of which have experienced service cuts over the past three years – back to serving more regional jet flights to the United – record network ».
Malta offshoot “Flite” is flying for Liliair from Klagenfurt
In the medium term, Mesa Airlines will position itself broadly and become less dependent on business in the United States. In cooperation with a partner, the future ACMI carrier Flite is currently being built on Malta. This is to go with Bombardier CRJ-900 at the start. From circles of the Maltese aviation authority it can be heard that AOC and operating license could be granted in the next few weeks. Officially, the authority does not want to comment on this process.
Flite was able to win the official launch customer in Austria. It is the future house brand of Klagenfurt Airport. The Maltese subsidiary of Mesa Airlines will initially operate two Bombardier CRJ-900s on a charter basis under the Liliair brand from the summer flight schedule of 2023. The Lilihill subsidiary is expected to start selling tickets in January 2023. Initially, Frankfurt am Main, Munich and Hamburg are to be connected to Klagenfurt.
It is currently not known with which or how many other providers the Mesa subsidiary Flite was able to conclude further contracts. A startup in France that would like to fly with CRJ1000 but does not have an AOC itself is under discussion. However, there is no official confirmation of this. In general, Flite and the parent company Mesa Airlines are rather covered with regard to European activities.
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