Northern Valley Beacon

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Thursday, January 12, 2006


Mesaba may cut fleet in half

Members of the Aberdeen Airport Board have been trying to get jet service to Aberdeen for some time. When Republic Airlines was the carrier serving the town, a late-night jet DC-9 came in late at night and then left early in the morning.

When Mesaba, the Northwest feeder line took over, the airport was served by very small turbo-props. They were so small that they could not hold all the luggage of passengers. Luggage was often shipped on later flights. The service has been upgraded, but with the bankruptcy of Northwest, Mesaba soon followed and is in bankruptcy protection. The outlook for any service is dubious, let alone any upgrade. The feeder line may cut its fleet serving the region in half. Here is part of the story by the AP which ran today in the Pioneer Press:

Regional feeder Mesaba also is in Chapter 11, having filed just one month after Northwest, which provides all of Mesaba's planes, revenue, and passengers.

Earlier this year Mesaba operated a fleet of 100 planes for Northwest, including 35 Avro regional jets that seat 69 passengers. But on Wednesday, parent MAIR Holdings Inc. said Northwest told Mesaba that all of Mesaba's Avro jets will be removed by December 2006. Mesaba also said Northwest is removing three of its Saab turboprops, leaving it to build its bankruptcy plan on a fleet of 49 Saabs.

"The four-engine Avros are very expensive to operate, especially in the current high fuel-cost environment," Northwest said in a recent employee newsletter.

Northwest has asked regional carriers including Mesaba to bid on flying 76-seat jets, such as Mesaba's handful of Canadair Regional Jets. The MAIR statement said Northwest will remove those jets, too, if Mesaba doesn't win that bid. Mesaba spokeswoman Elizabeth Costello said was being submitted this week.

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