US regional carrier Mesa Airlines plans to expand its flying partnership with United Airlines with the addition of 12 new Embraer 175 aircraft. These aircraft will bring Mesa’s E175 fleet count to 60 and the company’s total number of large regional jets to 145, including an 80 strong fleet flying under the United Express banner – 60 E175s and 20 Bombardier CRJ700s.
“We are delighted, once again, to extend and expand our partnership with United Airlines with the addition of 12 new Embraer 175 aircraft,” said Jonathan Ornstein, chairman and chief executive officer, Mesa Airlines. “We appreciate United’s confidence and will continue our focus on providing the highest levels of customer service and reliability in the industry.”
Since United’s E175 program launched in June 2014, Mesa has added 48 E-Jets to its United Express hub in Houston, with every aircraft in service on time or ahead of schedule. The delivery of these 12 additional E175s is scheduled to begin in May 2017 and will be configured in a 76-seat dual-class arrangement with 12 First-Class, 16 Premium Economy and 48 Economy seats.
“We have grown our E-Jet fleet from zero to 60 in record time and understand the importance of both top-notch performance and low cost operations,” said John Selvaggio, chief operating officer, Mesa Airlines. “Combining the two, Mesa has become the fastest growing US air carrier and the airline of choice for growth in the regional industry.”
Mesa has created more than 2,000 jobs over the past three years, and believes there are significant opportunities to continue this growth and provide thousands of additional careers for some of our country’s most promising pilots, flight attendants and mechanics.
Unfortunately, regional airlines face new, burdensome federal regulations threatening both the industry itself and small U.S. cities and towns, most of which have seen reduced service levels or have lost air service altogether. Mesa is hopeful changes will soon be made to this counter-productive government intervention in a vital US industry.
Despite these restrictive policies, Mesa continues its steady growth, building on the company’s partnerships with both United and American Airlines. Alongside its Houston operation, it also flies for United from Washington, for American Airlines out of Dallas and Phoenix under the American Eagle branding, while it also has bases in El Paso, Louisville and Tucson.
This is a long way away from the airline’s roots back in 1982 when the husband and wife team Larry Risley and Janie Risley in the unassuming town of Farmington, New Mexico mortgaged their house to pursue their dream of operating an airline. That same year Mesa Air Shuttle launched scheduled service between Farmington and Albuquerque with a five-seat Piper Saratoga aircraft and the call sign ‘Air Shuttle’ remains in use today as a tribute to its earliest days and a 35 year journey to becoming one of the leasing US regional airlines.
The Mesa network now encompasses more than 600 daily departures to 124 cities across 38 US states. It is now offering more than three million annual seats from Dallas Fort Worth, approaching two million from Houston Intercontinental and more than a million from both Phoenix Sky Harbor and Washington Dulles, together accounting for more than half of its network inventory.
According to schedules from intelligence provider OAG, Mesa’s total flight programme has risen 57.5 per cent since the start of the decade and last year it recorded its fourth consecutive year of annual capacity growth with a 14.4 per cent year-on-year rise. This followed a 14.7 per cent growth in 2013, 8.2 per cent in 2014 and 27.6 per cent in 2015. Since first introducing the Embraer E-Jets into its fleet in 2014, E175 operations already accounted for more than a quarter of its capacity (28.8 per cent) in 2016.