Mesa specifies 70-seaters for US Airways flights

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CHRIS KJELGAARD / NEW YORK

Mesa Airlines will operate up to 30 70-seat regional jets for US Airways if it confirms a letter of intent (LoI) to fly 50 more regional jets for the major, which is reorganising under Chapter 11 protection. The order would add to the 32 aircraft that Mesa already operates for US Airways Express and another 20 agreed under a new firm contract.

The aircraft are likely to be Bombardier CRJ700s, according to Mesa chief financial officer Rob Stone, who adds that the LoI calls for Mesa to operate the 50 aircraft under US Airways' "Jets for Jobs" programme. Under the scheme, half the pilots flying additional regional jets for affiliate carriers in the US Airways Express network must be furloughed US Airways mainline pilots - but with conditions. Mesa has optioned 40 CRJ700s and ordered 15 jets for its America West Express operation.

Other deals with regional operators by downsizing mainline carriers have been completed at Trans States Airlines and Chautauqua Airlines. Trans States general manager Fred Oxley says his carrier will become all-jet by 2006 as the leases expire on the last of its 25 BAe Jetstream 41s. The carrier completed the acquisition of eight Embraer ERJ-145s from American Eagle on 11 December and will operate 26 ERJ-145s, 14 of them on its American Connection codeshare operation from St Louis, in 2003. It is expected to retire its eight leased ATR 42s and ATR 72s next year.

Chautauqua executive vice-president Hal Cooper says 30 of 67 optioned ERJ-145s are earmarked for its Delta Air Lines fixed-fee operation and another 20 for its America West Airlines contract.