Ends Mesa's Obligations Under EAS Contracts
Chalk up another
airline casualty of these difficult economic times. Mesa Air Group
subsidiary Air Midwest will be grounded by the end of next month,
due to soaring fuel prices.
Air Midwest now serves 16 cities in 10 states, with a fleet of
19-seat Beech 1900 turboprops. The Associated Press reports some
cuts in service will begin next week, with the last Air Midwest
flight occurring June 30.
"Unfortunately under the current economic conditions there was
no foreseeable way to achieve sustained profitability," said Mesa
Air Group CEO Jonathan Ornstein.
Mesa purchased Air Midwest in 1991, and used it primarily on
subsidized air feeder service to small cities including Grand
Island, NE; Ely, NV; Visalia, CA; Joplin, MO; and Farmington, NM.
Earlier this year, Mesa asked the Department of Transportation to
release Air Midwest from its 13 Essential Air Service contracts,
saying despite government funding the airline was still bleeding
Closing down Air Midwest effectively ends Mesa's obligation
under the EAS contracts, noted Mesa attorney Brian Gillman. The
airline's general counsel added the carrier was losing "millions of
dollars a year" over the past several years.
"While this was an extremely difficult decision, and one that
the company worked tirelessly to avoid, we are working diligently
to minimize the impact this decision will have on Air Midwest's
passengers and employees," Ornstein added.
Outside of the communities served by Air Midwest, most knew the
carrier only by the January 2003 loss of one of its Beech
turboprops in Charlotte, NC. As ANN reported, that
overloaded US Airways Express flight crashed on takeoff, killing
all 21 persons onboard.
Airline consultant Michael Boyd notes few today will likely
notice the loss of Air Midwest service... as often, the 19-seat
planes ran empty, or close to it. "All it will affect is, mostly,
running empty airplanes out of small communities," Boyd said.
Mesa hopes to sell or lease Air Midwest's 20 remaining Beech
airliners. The decision to shut the airline down had a marked
effect on Mesa's already rock-bottom stock price, which closed nine
cents down on the day -- to 64 cents.