Mesa Air Group, Inc. and Delta Air Lines yesterday announced they have entered into an agreement for Mesa subsidiary Freedom Airlines to become a Delta Connection carrier. Mesa says its Delta aircraft will come from some of the aircraft currently provided to US Airways.
The new Delta Connection agreement provides for Freedom Airlines to operate up to 30 Bombardier CRJ-200 aircraft on routes throughout Delta's network for a period of 12 years, with the first aircraft planned to enter Delta Connection service as early as October 2005.
"This agreement offers long-term cost savings to Delta and makes it economically attractive to upgrade flying that would have been operated with 32-seat Fairchild Dornier aircraft to 50-seat Bombardier CRJs, an aircraft that is more flexible and effective within our network and existing Delta Connection carrier fleet," said J.T. Fisher, president, Delta Connection, Inc. in a statement.
Late yesterday, SkyWay Airlines, a subsidiary of Midwest Airlines and operator of Fairchild Dornier 328 Jets as Midwest Connect, confirmed that it had ended discussions to operate 328 Jets on behalf of Delta.
Former Delta feeder Atlantic Coast Airlines stopped serving as a Delta Connection carrier in October 2004 in due to its transition to low-fare carrier Independence Air. At that time, as Delta was restructuring its network, the company diverted much of its ACA capacity to other Delta Connection carriers. The Mesa agreement completes the void left by ACA's departure.
For Mesa, the Delta deal means diversified income and less reliance on its two big, but bankrupt partners -- US Airways and United Airlines. Mesa says that the aircraft for its Delta operation will come out of some of its current flying for US Airways, which has new deals with equity investors and feeder airline groups Air Wisconsin and Republic Airways.
With the addition of Mesa's Freedom Airlines subsidiary, the Delta Connection program includes Delta's wholly owned subsidiaries Atlantic Southeast Airlines and Comair, regional carriers Chautauqua, Freedom, Republic and SkyWest, and codeshare partner American Eagle (in California).