Category Archives: Mesaba Airlines

Delta ends SAAB 340B service at Tupelo, MS

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) ended SAAB 340B Delta Connection service (operated by Mesaba Airlines) at Tupelo, MS on September 1. The turboprop service was replaced with CRJ200s. Delta serves Tupelo with service to the Memphis hub. However DL intends to drop all service to Tupelo in July 2012.

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Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Delta is phasing out the Mesaba SAAB 340Bs as it attempts to convert to an all-jet operation. Please click on the photo for additional information.

Pinnacle Airlines Corporation loses $2.4 million in the second quarter

Pinnacle Airlines Corporation (Memphis) reported a net loss and net loss per share for the second quarter of 2011 of $2.4 million and $0.13, respectively.

Pinnacle Airlines Corporation is the airline holding company with 7,700 employees and is the parent company of Pinnacle Airlines, Inc.; Mesaba Aviation, Inc.; and Colgan Air, Inc. flying as Delta Connection, United Express and US Airways Express.

Pinnacle Airlines Corporation operating subsidiaries operate 202 regional jets and 84 turboprops on more than 1,500 daily flights to 196 cities and towns in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Belize.

The 35% year-over-year increase in the price per gallon of aircraft fuel negatively impacted Colgan’s Pro-Rate operations by $2.1 million during the second quarter of 2011.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Please click on the photo for the aircraft information.

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Delta to adjust service to smaller, underperforming markets

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) today will notify the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) of its plans to adjust flying in 24 small markets. In concert with the retirement of Delta’s SAAB 340B fleet and to halt $14 million in annual losses, the changes will affect Essential Air Service (EAS) markets.

According to Delta, flights in these markets on average depart with 52 percent of the seats filled, with some locations as low as 12 percent. This compares to a domestic system load factor of 83 percent for 2010. Weak demand in some markets has led to flights occasionally operated with no passengers on board.

Delta has taken a number of steps to respond to added cost pressures. Delta previously announced its intention to reduce capacity this fall by 4 percent and retire 140 aircraft. Delta has reduced its facility costs at 170 airport locations and 10 cargo locations across the system, saving more than $80 million annually.

The notification provides the DOT the opportunity to select a new carrier to begin service in affected EAS communities within a 90-day period. Delta will continue to serve the affected communities through its Delta Connection partners until the DOT selects a replacement carrier and appropriate funding is available. In some cities, Delta is coordinating with other carriers to bid on the routes. In addition, Delta will continue service in some subsidized and non-subsidized markets, but the subsidy rate must be higher in order for Delta to fly larger regional jets on the routes in question. A complete list of affected communities is available at

The EAS program was created to ensure small communities continue to have access to passenger air service. In some cases, airline service in EAS markets is subsidized by the government. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 provides that if a carrier is held in beyond the 90-day notice period, it is entitled to receive compensation “to pay for the fully allocated actual cost to the carrier of performing the …service … plus a reasonable return on investment that is at least 5 percent of operating costs; and to provide the carrier an additional return that recognizes the demonstrated additional lost profits from opportunities foregone [by continuing to be held in and providing service.”

Cities to be dropped:

Thief River Falls, MN TVF EAS subsidized 12.0% load factor
Greenville, MS GLH EAS subsidized 27.6% load factor
Devils Lake, ND DVL EAS subsidized 30.3% load factor
Watertown, SD ATY EAS subsidized 35.0% load factor
Muscle Shoals, MS MSL EAS subsidized 35.7% load factor
Fort Dodge, IA FOD EAS subsidized 39.1% load factor
Hibbing, MN HIB EAS subsidized 39.2% load factor
Alpena, MI APN EAS subsidized 39.5% load factor
Tupelo, MS TUP EAS subsidized 41.0% load factor
Jamestown, ND JMS EAS subsidized 42.1% load factor
Mason City, IA MCW EAS subsidized 45.9% load factor
Pierre, SD PIR Not EAS subsidized 47.4% load factor
Iron Mountain, MI IMT EAS Subsidized 48.7% load factor
Sioux City, IA SUX Not EAS subsidized 51.4% load factor
International Falls, MN INL EAS subsidized 52.5% load factor
Brainerd, MD BRD Not EAS subsidized 52.6% load factor
Hattiesburg, MS PIB EAS subsidized 53.7% load factor
Escanaba MI ESC EAS subsidized 55.2% load factor
Aberdeen, SD ABR Not EAS subsidized 55.6% load factor
Pellston MI PLN Not EAS subsidized 58.5% load factor
Bemidji, MN BJI Not EAS subsidized 59.3% load factor
Sault Ste Marie MI CIU EAS subsidized 60.0% load factor
Waterloo, IA ALO Not EAS subsidized 61.4% load factor
Butte, MT BTM Not EAS subsidized 65.3% load factor

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Please click on the photo for the story of the SAAB 340B retirement.

Delta and US Airways announce a new agreement to transfer slots in New York and Washington

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) and US Airways (Phoenix) today (May 23) announced a new agreement to transfer takeoff and landing rights at New York’s LaGuardia and Washington’s Reagan National airports. The agreement, filed today with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), revises a 2009 transaction agreed between Delta and US Airways and approved by the DOT, but under terms not acceptable to the carriers, and never completed. The new agreement enables Delta and US Airways to expand service and increase competition at two of the nation’s key cities, and provides the opportunity for additional access to LaGuardia and Reagan National for new entrants and airlines with a limited presence at the airports.

Under the agreement, Delta would acquire 132 slot pairs at LaGuardia from US Airways and US Airways would acquire from Delta 42 slot pairs at Reagan National and the rights to operate additional daily service to Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2015, and Delta would pay US Airways $66.5 million in cash. In addition, the transaction could result in the divestiture of up to 16 slot pairs at LaGuardia and eight slot pairs at Reagan National to airlines with limited or no service at those airports. The completion of the transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including government and regulatory approvals. A slot pair is the authority to operate one takeoff and one landing.

Both carriers believe the competitive landscape in both cities has changed significantly since the transaction was first proposed in 2009. New entrants and smaller carriers, including AirTran Airways, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines, have gained considerable access to slots at both LaGuardia and Reagan National and expanded service at these and other airports in the New York and Washington regions. Also, mergers between United Airlines and Continental Airlines and Southwest and AirTran have dramatically sharpened competition on the East Coast generally and particularly in the New York and Washington regions. Nonetheless, to address concerns previously raised by the Department of Transportation, the agreement provides for the divestiture of up to 16 slot pairs at LaGuardia and eight at Reagan National if required by the regulatory authorities.

The two airlines will dismiss their appeal of the DOT’s order regarding the original 2009 transaction that is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. Dismissing the appeal clears the way for DOT to consider the revised application.

Delta’s expanded operation at LaGuardia will allow more and improved connecting service in New York, and ensure economically viable service to small communities, while creating an expanded network that will be particularly valuable for New York business customers. The airline will approximately double the number of nonstop destinations it serves from LaGuardia, including top business destinations and many cities not currently served nonstop by Delta or US Airways.

Delta will replace turboprop aircraft currently operated by US Airways with larger jets, adding as many as 4 million additional roundtrip seats available at LaGuardia without increasing congestion.

As part of the agreement, Delta will take control of US Airways’ Terminal C to create an expanded main terminal for customers. Delta will operate a total of 18 gates in Terminal C, and add one additional gate at Delta’s Terminal D, for a total of 29 gates in the two terminals. A 600-foot connector will be built to connect the two terminals. Delta also will convert the existing US Airways lounge in Terminal C to a Sky Club, while continuing to operate its current Sky Club in Terminal D.

Delta will continue to operate its popular hourly Delta Shuttle from its six gates at the Marine Air Terminal. In addition, Delta will spend up to $117 million to expand, renovate and consolidate terminals C and D over the next two years. Overall, the transaction will directly and indirectly generate an estimated 6,000 new jobs in New York.

Since making a strategic decision to build New York into a hub earlier this decade, Delta has made major investments across the region, boosting its economic impact to more than $13 billion annually. The airline is currently constructing a $1.2 billion project that will enhance and expand Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, creating a state-of-the-art facility for New York’s fastest growing global airline.

US Airways’ popular hourly Shuttle service between LaGuardia, Reagan National and Boston that is operated on dual-class mainline jets will remain unchanged as a result of the transaction. Also, US Airways will continue to offer its customers high-frequency schedules from LaGuardia to its Charlotte, N.C. and Philadelphia hubs and Pittsburgh with more than 60 daily weekday flights. All US Airways flights from LaGuardia will continue to arrive and depart from nine gates and parking positions in Terminal C and US Airways will build a new, state-of-the-art 5,000-square foot US Airways Club.

At Reagan National, US Airways’ expanded operation will connect more small, medium and large communities with the nation’s capital and create additional flight options throughout the airline’s route network. US Airways expects to further increase its use of dual class mainline aircraft and soon to be dual class larger regional jets at Reagan National. The move will benefit customers by increasing the number of available seats between Washington and favorite destinations without increasing congestion.

US Airways plans to add at least 15 new destinations from Washington, to its network as a result of the transaction and competition will be further enhanced by US Airways adding service to popular destinations that are currently served by other carriers. As a result, business and leisure travelers as well as military and government employees will have more access to the nation’s capital and its downtown airport.

Following full implementation of the new schedule, US Airways will operate approximately 230 peak-day departures at Reagan National, a 20 percent increase over current service levels. The airline anticipates an increase of approximately 20 to 25 percent in passenger enplanements at Reagan National as a result of the new flights and schedule improvements. However, there will be no increase in congestion at the airport due to US Airways’ planned increase in scale and Delta’s reduction in slots.

The expansion is consistent with US Airways’ previously announced strategic plan to focus on growing its key, most profitable airports at its Washington focus city, its Phoenix, Philadelphia and Charlotte hubs and its US Airways Shuttle service. Once the transition is complete, more than 99 percent of US Airways capacity will be to or from its key airports.

Delta will continue to operate a robust schedule at Reagan National, with nonstop service between the airport and its seven domestic hubs and select cities. It also will continue to operate its Delta Shuttle between Reagan National and New York.

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough. New LGA operator for US Airways is Mesaba Airlines. Ironically the SAAB 340B aircraft involved with the new operation were previously operated for Delta Connection. If the new amended agreement is approved this Mesaba operation at LGA could be short-lived. Please click on the photo for the full details.

Pinnacle’s first quarter net profit slips to $100,000

Pinnacle Airlines Corporation (Memphis) reported financial results for the first quarter of 2011. Net income and diluted earnings per share were $0.1 million ($100,000) and $0.01, respectively, excluding a special item.

This is the first period in which the holding company is experiencing the effects of the new pilot contract with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) that was entered into in February 2011, increasing pilot compensation and benefits costs by $2.1 million for the quarter.

The holding company recorded $5.8 million ($3.1 million, net of related income taxes) of special charges for integration, severance, and contract implementation costs. Including these special items, the Company’s net loss and net loss per share were $(3.0) million and $(0.16), respectively.

Breakdown by each company:

Pinnacle Airlines, Inc. (Memphis) reported first quarter 2011 operating income and an operating margin of $9.0 million and 5.5%, a decrease of $4.8 million and 3.3 points, respectively, from the first quarter of 2010. Pinnacle’s operating income decreased primarily as a result of weather related performance penalties and increased pilot wages under the new labor agreement with ALPA.

Mesaba Aviation (Minneapolis/St. Paul) reported operating income and an operating margin of $1.1 million and 1.6%, respectively. Mesaba’s financial results were negatively impacted by weather conditions during the quarter as well as the wind-down of Delta’s turboprop operations as structured under the capacity purchase agreement (“Saab DCA”). The Saab DCA is structured to adjust revenue at the beginning of each year and on a prospective basis to reflect increased pilot and mechanic costs associated with the wind-down of operations. During the first quarter of 2011, the Company did not record estimated revenue of approximately $0.5 million associated with this rate adjustment. Revenue will be recorded upon final determination of the rate adjustment, which the Company expects to occur in the second quarter of 2011.

Colgan Air, Inc. (Memphis) reported an operating income and an operating margin of $2.0 million and 2.9%, an improvement of $3.1 million and 4.8 points, respectively, from the first quarter of 2010. The increase in operating margin was mainly attributable to the growth of Q400 operations during the quarter with United, partially offset by lost revenue from cancellations associated with winter weather. The improved operating results were also negatively impacted by an increase in pilot wages and a 32% year-over-year increase in the price per gallon of aircraft fuel.

Pinnacle Airlines Corporation is a $1 billion airline holding company with 7,700 employees and is the holding company of Pinnacle Airlines, Inc.; Mesaba Aviation, Inc.; and Colgan Air, Inc. Flying as Delta Connection, United Express and US Airways Express, Pinnacle Airlines Corp. operating subsidiaries operate 202 regional jets and 88 turboprops on more than 1,600 daily flights to 196 cities and towns in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Belize. Hub operations are located at 11 major U.S. airports.

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough. Please click on the photo for additional information.

Colgan’s routes in the Northeast:

Mesaba gets ready to start its US Airways Express operation next month

Mesaba Airlines (Minneapolis/St. Paul) is getting ready to launch its new US Airways Express operation with SAAB 340B turboprops next month for US Airways.

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough. Please click on the photo for the full story.

Pinnacle Airlines Corporation’s pilots ratify the new contract

Pinnacle Airlines Corporation (Memphis) has announced that its pilots have ratified a collective bargaining agreement with the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA). The single contract covers pilots at all three of Pinnacle’s operating subsidiaries – Pinnacle Airlines, Inc.; Mesaba Aviation, Inc.; and Colgan Air, Inc.

The single contract completes negotiations that were under way at Pinnacle and Colgan prior to Pinnacle’s acquisition of Mesaba on July 1, and provides a new contract for pilots at Mesaba that would supersede their present contract. Pinnacle has 1,305 pilots, Mesaba has 1,080 and Colgan has 541.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Please click on the photo for background information on Mesaba Airlines.

Delta Connection-Mesaba Airlines CRJ900 Route Map:

Delta discontinues the Florence-Atlanta route

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) ended scheduled service at Florence, SC today. The route to the Atlanta hub was mainly flown by Mesaba Airlines’ SAAB 340B turboprops, ending the use of the type in the South.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Please click on the photo for additional details.

Mesaba Airlines to operate as an US Airways Express carrier in 2011

Mesaba Airlines (Minneapolis/St. Paul) will operate as an US Airways Express carrier with seven leased SAAB 340Bs recently returned by Delta Air Lines from the Delta Connection operation. The SAABs will be leased from SAAB.

In a message to the employees, the new operation will be based at New York’s LaGuardia Airport beginning in March 2011. Mesaba will initially operate three SAAB 340Bs with one spare 340B. Three additional 340Bs will be added in April 2011. Under the current plan, Mesaba will fly from LGA to Ithaca and Syracuse, NY; Providence, RI, Charlottesville, VA, Manchester, NH and Washington (Dulles).  Mesaba will also establish a crew domicile at LGA.

Mesaba next month will begin taking re-delivery of the seven aircraft that Mesaba previously operated – fleet numbers 402, 407, 412, 413, 414, 416, and 418. The aircraft will be painted in the US Airways 2005 livery and will feature the same interior Mesaba recently installed as part of the refurbishment program for Delta Connection.

Delta to end service to Florence and Hilton Head Island

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) is ending service from Atlanta to both Florence and Hilton head Island, both in South Carolina on November 1. The Mesaba Airlines SAAB 340Bs were operated on the two routes as Mesaba gradually withdraws the type from service and the ATL hub. Delta is also dropping service to Lynchburg, VA and London, ON.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Please click on the photo for additional details on the planned phase out of the SAAB 340B.