Rumor: Mesa Airlines Considering Bankruptcy, Dropping American Airlines Regional Service

Regional carrier Mesa Airlines is rumored to be considering Chapter 11 bankruptcy, or as they say Chapter 22 because this would be the airline’s second trip to the courthouse. They last used the bankruptcy process to shed aircraft obligations in 2010.

This information is passed along by aviation watchdog JonNYC.

"Mesa has made it quietly clear their need to enter Ch 11. They can’t staff existing capacity agreements. They can’t run their operation as-is. AA flying would be dropped, UA flying would be heavy on E175s… sometime between now and Q1 2023."

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) October 17, 2022

A slimmed-down carrier would eliminate flying as an American Airlines regional affiliate, and focus on its United Airlines contract. Currently Mesa flies Bombardier CR-9 regional jets for American out of Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix, and 70- and 76-seat Embraer ERJ-175 regional jets for United focused on Houston and Washington Dulles. Mesa’s five year agreement with American is just two years old (running through December 31st, 2025).


Credit: Mesa Airlines

Recently Mesa sold its Bombardier CRJ-550 aircraft to United and has sought innovative ways of attracting and developing new pilots amidst a shortage that has seen numerous employees taken on by mainline carriers.

Mesa Airlines is incredibly excited to announce a program that will revolutionize the way pilots build their time to ATP minimums. We will be purchasing 29 state-of-the-art light sport Pipistrel aircraft for cadets to build time for $25 an hour with zero up front costs. pic.twitter.com/5Z1ZldC0NY

— Mesa Airlines 🛫 (@MesaAirlines) September 22, 2022

The airline’s stock, though, doesn’t seem to buying the strategy.

Mesa is run by CEO Jonathan Ornstein, who has held the position since 1998. Previously he served as head of Europe’s Virgin Express and Continental Express, and ran the Westair division of Mesa (United Express on the West Coast). He also had a sketchy past working in financial services.

The regional airline previously operated as US Airways Express and America West Express and under a number of other brands, including its own intra-island Hawaiian airline (go!) and Kunpeng Airlines in a joint venture with China’s Shenzhen Airlines.

While passengers whose American Eagle flights are replaced by other operators are likely to experience an upgraded service (Mesa is derisively known as ‘Messy’ for the poor condition in which some of their cabin interiors are kept), we might see some routes dropped altogether.

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