Big Sky parent MAIR explores growth opportunities

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MAIR Holdings, the parent of regional operator Big Sky Airlines, is exploring growth opportunities and says it will consider acquisitions to diversify within airline-related industries.

In a recent financial statement detailing a 2008 fiscal first quarter profit of $6.5 million, MAIR says growth opportunities “will be evaluated in the context of maximizing shareholder value and weighed against other tax efficient mechanisms to return capital to shareholders”.

Additionally, notes MAIR president and CEO Paul Foley, management is “is actively helping Big Sky both manage its day-to-day operations and determine its future while at the same time looking at investment opportunities that can benefit from our experience”.

MAIR previously owned formerly-bankrupt Mesaba Airlines, but this unit was sold to Northwest Airlines. On April 24 Mesaba emerged from bankruptcy as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Northwest.

MAIR’s fiscal first quarter income of $6.5 million compares to a fiscal first quarter 2006 net loss of $2.5 million. The year-over-year improvement was the result of the company recording $9.4 million of other income due to damage claims from Mesaba’s bankruptcy.

This income was offset by $4.5 million of operating losses at Big Sky and MAIR. Big Sky’s losses were impacted by start-up expenses for its new Boston route expansion with Raytheon Beech 1900s for Delta Air Lines, says MAIR.

However, the company notes that Big Sky this month will add another aircraft to its fleet and begin service to two additional cities. Big Sky will have doubled in size by the end of the fiscal year, primarily because of the Boston operation, it says.

This expansion “will assist Big Sky in leveraging its fixed costs over more aircraft to reach sustained profitability by the end of the fiscal year”, adds MAIR.