Mesaba Airlines Recalls All Furloughed Pilots


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Mesaba Airlines Recalls All Furloughed Pilots

Shane Nolan

March 10, 2011 - The pilots of Mesaba Airlines, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l, (ALPA) hailed the decision by Mesaba Airlines, Inc., a division of Pinnacle Airlines, Corp., to recall all furloughed pilots. The move is an indication of sustained growth within the airline.  

All 159 pilots will be called back to the line at Mesaba to operate Saab aircraft out of the airline’s new LaGuardia, New York, hub. Training classes for recalled pilots will commence as soon as April 4 as a result of this announcement. These classes are anticipated to continue through the summer of 2011.  

In Spring 2011, Mesaba Airlines will begin operating flights out of New York's LaGuardia Airport on behalf of US Airways under the US Airways Express brand, the service will utlize Saab 340 aircraft and replace the current service being operated by Colgan Air.

Mesaba Airlines is an American regional airline based in Eagan, Minnesota. The airline operates under Mesaba Aviation, Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Pinnacle Airlines Corporation. Its flights are operated under the name Delta Connection for Delta Air Lines. 

After the September 11 terrorist attacks, Mesaba was forced to reduce its workforce by 20% and achieve cost savings. In the fall of 2003, Northwest announced plans to begin retirement of the Avro jet fleet, beginning with five aircraft. The Avro jets, which comprise of about half of Mesaba's revenue, were according to Northwest inefficient and aging.  

However, Mesaba was able to negotiate a deal with Northwest allowing the Avro fleet to remain in service for the near future. In 2005, it was announced that Mesaba would receive 15 new Canadair Regional Jets that would eventually replace the Avro jets.  

“We are happy to welcome all of our furloughed colleagues back to the line at Mesaba,” said Captain Mark Nagel, chairman of Mesaba’s branch of ALPA. “This is a sign of changing times. With the newly awarded flying out of LaGuardia for US Airways, an increase in the number of Saab 340 aircraft in our operation, and now the recall of all of our furloughed pilots, we feel this announcement positions us well for continued excellence and further growth within our newly merged airline.”  


“The financial contributions Mesaba has made to the merged operation have already been outstanding, and the company has not yet realized all of the synergies,” said Captain Nagel. “This is a testament to the professional pilots we have at Mesaba Airlines. We feel Mesaba is in position to better enhance Pinnacle Airlines’ financial success in the future.”


On 14 September 2005, Northwest Airlines filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection. Subsequently, the airline withheld over $25 million in payments from their regional partners Mesaba and Pinnacle.

Northwest proceeded to announce plans to ground the entire Avro fleet by Q1 2007, 10 Saab 340B aircraft by 24 January 2006, and to halt the delivery of the 13 remaining Canadair Regional Jets, leaving Mesaba with an awkward and expensive fleet of two aircraft.

Facing rising fuel costs, downsizing plans, and lack of income from Northwest, Mesaba Aviation filed for Chapter 11 on 13 October 2005. On July 1, 2010, Mesaba Aviation, Inc. was purchased by Pinnacle Airlines, Corp. from Delta Air Lines for $62 million.

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