Mesa Airlines is preparing for the entry-into-service of its first Embraer 175 aircraft in June, as it begins a rapid expansion of its large regional jet fleet.
The Phoenix-based regional carrier is on track to place the aircraft into service with United Airlines on 15 June, says Jonathan Ornstein, chief executive of Mesa. Both the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification process and Mesa’s staffing needs for the fleet are moving along well, he says.
Mesa took delivery of its first E175, registered N88301 (MSN 17000388), in San Jose dos Campos and flew it to Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport on 2 April. United owns the aircraft.
Mesa's first E175 at Phoenix airport
Mesa will take delivery of an average of two E175s per month for 15 months, or until the end of 2015, says Ornstein. It will operate 30 of the type under a contract with United with the possibility for up to 40 more.
The airline is also in the process of adding four more Bombardier CRJ700s to its operations with American Airlines by the end of 2014 and is interested in additional regional flying for the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier.
United will use the E175s to replace regional jets with up to 50 seats on a roughly one-for-one basis.
“It’s clear these 76-seat airplanes make a lot of sense,” says Ornstein.
Mesa will initially fly the aircraft between United’s Houston Intercontinental base and Atlanta, Austin and New Orleans when they enter service.
“They want to assign them to business markets,” says Paul Foley, chief operating officer of Mesa. “With the range of these aircraft, they can be scheduled is business markets across the continent.”
United will also begin adding 40 E175s operated by SkyWest Airlines to its regional fleet in May. The aircraft will initially be based at Chicago O’Hare International airport.