Mesa Air Group cut 250 jobs during the same week the Phoenix company named a new COO.

Flight reductions prompted the reductions last week, which focused primarily on management and administrative positions and are nearly complete, a Mesa spokesman says.

The carrier tries to maintain a ratio of 27 to 28 employees per aircraft, he says, adding those numbers have fluctuated between 25 and 31 per aircraft.

Mesa now employs roughly 4,300 people, including new COO Paul Foley, who was formerly CEO of now defunct MAIR Holdings.

Service cuts at Mesa include the elimination of a Delta Air Lines contract covering seven Bombardier CRJ900s flown by Mesa subsidiary Freedom Airlines.

Mesa had subleased the 76-seaters from Delta, and had been scheduled to fly an additional seven jets for the SkyTeam alliance member by May 2009.

The US major cancelled the contract earlier this year, claiming Freedom failed to meet specified operating targets in the air services contract.

Last week Delta struck a new deal with another regional partner Pinnacle airlines to fly the -900s exiting Mesa's operations on a short-term basis.

Phoenix-based Mesa is also fighting to preserve another contract it has with Delta. In August Delta began placing back into service 34 Embraer ERJ-145s it tried to cull from its operations earlier this year.

Delta informed Mesa in March that it intended to cancel the ERJ contract, again citing Freedom's failure to meet certain operational targets.

Mesa attempted to block Delta from dissolving the contract through the courts and won a preliminary injunction in May preventing Delta from cutting the flights.

Delta is appealing the decision, but until the matter is resolved, Freedom must operate the 50-seaters for Delta Connection.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news