Mesa may be leaving CLT by the end of 2005


Well-known member
Sep 6, 2002
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Area Mesa workers might be departing

As US Airways and America West Airlines continue their merger plans, more than 600 Charlotte-based workers with small-jet provider Mesa Air Group are facing the prospect of commuting to other cities or moving away.

Of the 59 small jets Mesa flies for US Airways under the name US Airways Express, 36 are based in Charlotte, along with pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and some management.

But because of the way US Airways is reorganizing in bankruptcy court -- by signing deals with other regional-jet providers to fly for cash -- Mesa figures US Airways won't need its services.

The changes under way with US Airways' regional affiliates are part of a larger reshuffling of small-jet operators in the airline industry. United Airlines and US Airways have used the power of bankruptcy court to forge better deals -- and affiliates like Mesa who decline to agree to new terms get cut out.

Regional carriers are one of the fastest-growing segments in the industry. In the last five years, the number of Americans flying on turboprops or regional jets has increased 60 percent, while trips on larger planes have fallen.

US Airways owns three of its eight Express affiliates, which operate about two-thirds of US Airways' 3,400 daily flights. In addition, US Airways signed an agreement in February with Air Wisconsin Airways that allows Air Wisconsin to fly smaller planes.

"These commuter airlines can be played against each other," said Vaughn Cordle, chief analyst with AirlineForecasts and a pilot for a major airline.

Mesa President Michael Lotz said, "It's pretty obvious to us that (US Airways) went ahead and got regional jets to replace us. We're anticipating it happening, and they're anticipating it happening."

Lotz said he figures planes -- and the jobs that go with them -- will start leaving Charlotte by year's end.

Mesa had a choice. But it didn't reach an agreement to keep its planes with US Airways, thinking it too risky, Mesa CEO Jonathan Ornstein has said. Phoenix-based Mesa already has 61 planes at America West, and keeping a fleet at US Airways would make Mesa too dependent on the merged airline, he said.

Mesa employees in US Airways hubs -- Charlotte and Philadelphia -- will probably have to head elsewhere for work. Mesa has reached new agreements with United and Delta Air Lines, which means Charlotte workers are likely to be transferred to Washington, Chicago or Orlando, Fla.

"We're like nomadic workers," said a Mesa pilot from Charlotte, who asked not to be identified because of scrutiny from his union and company. "Wherever the work goes is where you have to go."

He plans to continue living in Charlotte for now, but his job is likely to be based in Washington -- meaning less time at home with his wife and 3-year-old son.

A US Airways spokesman referred calls to America West, whose spokesman said the airlines have not yet figured out details of which regional affiliates are flying where.

One possibility is that Air Wisconsin establishes a base in Charlotte. A company spokeswoman did not return calls.

Charlotte airport director Jerry Orr says he senses Air Wisconsin will move workers and planes here, although nobody has told him anything definite.

"If Air Wisconsin or anybody else is going to do what Mesa does in Charlotte for US Airways, they pretty much have to base the people here," he said.

Regional Partner Shuffle

Major U.S. airlines have been switching companies that fly their smaller planes. Some of the recent moves:

United Airlines

Drops Air Wisconsin. Picks up Mesa Air, adds planes from ************************* Airlines and SkyWest Airlines.

Delta Air Lines

Drops Atlantic Coast Airlines (which becomes Independence Air). Picks up Mesa.

US Airways

Picks up Air Wisconsin. Expected to drop Mesa. Selling MidAtlantic Airways assets to Republic Airways and leasing them back.


Paul R. Smith

Fender Bender
Jan 15, 2004
Total Time
blzr said:
<A Selling MidAtlantic Airways assets to Republic Airways and leasing them back.

How much buying is Rjet gonna do this year?

And on that note...Is Republic, Chautaqua and Shuttle America seperately or is that not ironed out yet?


This is Oklahoma Football
Jan 17, 2002
Total Time
Nope, not going to be AWAC. Bases for us are going to be PHL, DCA, maybe ORF and/or RIC. I know PSA is displacing people out of PHL, not sure how many.

I love how U hasn't even officially announced anything about this whole musical express carriers game they have going on.

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