Mesa Air Receives Court Approval On Reorganization Plan


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Mesa Air Receives Court Approval On Reorganization Plan

By Daniel Baxter

January 23, 2011 - The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved Mesa Air Group’s Plan of Reorganization, clearing the way for the airline’s emergence from Chapter 11. “This is an exciting day for everyone at Mesa,” said Jonathan Ornstein, Mesa’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. 

Mesa Airlines, Inc. is an American regional airline based in Phoenix, Arizona. It is a FAA Part 121 certificated air carrier operating under air carrier certificate number MASA036A issued on June 29, 1979. It is a subsidiary of Mesa Air Group. It was known briefly as Mountain West Airlines from 1995 to 1996.

It operates flights as United Express, US Airways Express, Delta Connection (via Freedom Airlines), and under the brand go! for flights within the Hawaiian Islands. It serves more than 180 markets in the Western Hemisphere. Mesa's safety record was noted as having the fewest incidents among domestic regional airlines in the Journal of Air Transportation. In January 2010, Mesa has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, hoping to shed financial obligations for leases on airplanes it no longer needs.

“Achieving a turnaround of this magnitude in little more than 12 months would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of Mesa’s employees and the focused execution of Mesa’s Plan of Reorganization by our management team led by Michael Lotz, President and Chief Financial Officer and Brian Gillman, the Company’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel.

"I’d also like to thank Paul Foley, our Chief Operating Officer, David Butler, our Senior VP of Human Resources and Gary Appling, our Senior VP of Maintenance & Engineering for their efforts on our underlying business during the restructuring. We would also like to thank our restructuring advisors Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP and Imperial Capital, and the others that have helped make this possible, including the support of our airline partners, customers and the communities we serve.”

Following a successful and efficient 12-month restructuring, Mesa restructured its operations and is set to emerge as a leading regional air carrier flying primarily larger 70- and 86-seat regional jet aircraft. Mesa’s creditors overwhelmingly supported the Plan of Reorganization, which also applies to the eleven wholly owned subsidiaries of Mesa that filed for Chapter 11 protection. Mesa and each of its subsidiaries are expected to emerge from Chapter 11 in February 2011.


Among the company’s restructuring accomplishments, Mesa extended the term of is code-share agreement with US Airways, Inc. through September 2015, eliminated over 100 unnecessary aircraft leases and financings that contributed to the deleveraging of Mesa’s balance sheet in the approximate amount of $700 million in capitalized leases and $50 million in debt. In addition, restructured aircraft leases and financings for Mesa’s fleet of CRJ 200 and Dash 8 aircraft resulting in flexibility and no long-term lease exposure on the CRJ 200 50-seat regional jet aircraft and Mesa will emerge as a private company and issue new notes, common stock, and warrants to its creditors.  

Mesa is now poised to enter its next chapter as a strong airline ready to compete in an ever changing industry. We are particularly proud of the fact that during our restructuring, Mesa achieved – and has consistently maintained – regional airline leading operational performance as reported by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, including Mesa achieving the highest monthly On Time Performance of all regional airlines since May 2010. This strong operational performance is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of all of our employees and came during a time when many of our employees contributed to our financial savings through the taking of additional unpaid days off. This level of dedication and associated strong operational performance has provided a strong foundation upon which to return our airline to sustained profitability and future growth,” concluded Ornstein.

On February 13, 2008, the pilots of a go! CRJ200, Air Shuttle Flight 1002 (N651BR) fell asleep and overshot their destination airport by 26 nautical miles (48 km; 30 mi) before Air Traffic Control was able to make contact with the aircraft. The incident happened on the third consecutive day during which the pilots had been required to start duty at 0540 am. The captain suffered from an undiagnosed severe sleep apnea.


The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause of this incident as follows: "The captain and first officer inadvertently falling asleep during the cruise phase of flight. Contributing to the incident were the captain's undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea and the flight crew’s recent work schedules, which included several consecutive days of early-morning start times."

Mesa currently operates 76 aircraft with approximately 450 daily system departures to 94 cities, 38 states, the District of Columbia, and Mexico. Mesa operates as US Airways Express and United Express under contractual agreements with US Airways and United Airlines, respectively, and independently as go! Mokulele. This operation links Honolulu to the neighbor island airports of Hilo, Kahului, Kona and Lihue. The Company was founded by Larry and Janie Risley in New Mexico in 1982.


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