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Mesa becomes an American Eagle carrier

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

In February 2013, US Airways announced that it would merge with American Airlines. The merger was not immediate as anti-trust regulators took some time to approve the deal which was finalized in 2015. The merged company would be run by Doug Parker, the ex-America West CEO who became the head of the merged America West/US Airways company, and the new proposed “American” would keep the American name and move the company headquarters from Phoenix to Dallas-Fort Worth. As part of that merger, Mesa Airlines ended up with a new codesharing agreement with American in February 2014. The new agreement took on forty-seven of Mesa’s existing US Airways Express CRJ-900 aircraft, with the contract for the first thirty of them expiring in 2021, and the additional seventeen of the CRJ-900s expiring in 2022. The Mesa airplanes were repainted in American Eagle livery.

The contract with American changed over the next few years, eventually topping out with sixty-four CRJ-900s flying for American Eagle by 2018. The new contract called for two Mesa crew domiciles in Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth. Then the industry was stricken by a looming pilot shortage and Mesa found it difficult to crew all of the airplanes. The 2020 Mesa annual report showed that the number of CRJ-900s flying for American had shrunk to fifty-four. By 2021, that number decreased to forty airplanes, with several of the Mesa CRJ-900s parked in storage.

In 2021, Doug Parker retired from American and was replaced by Robert Isom as CEO. The Mesa/American relationship had soured over several issues and deteriorated even worse under Isom’s watch. Mesa wanted to increase the rates they paid their pilots to compete with other pay raises in the regional industry in an attempt to stop pilot attrition, but American refused to reimburse Mesa for the higher proposed rates. This refusal, at the same time that American had raised the rates for pilots at their own wholly owned regional carriers, was especially bothersome to Mesa management. American began fining Mesa for failure to meet the performance goals in their contract. Mesa argued many of the cancelled flights were caused by American. This dispute came to a head in 2022, at which time American announced they would not be renewing Mesa’s codesharing agreement and the codeshare would end in April 2023.

At one point Mesa operated 64 CRJ-900s for American Eagle out of the Phoenix and Dallas-Ft. Worth hubs.

As the number of Mesa CRJ-900s flying for American were reduced, several of them found their way to boneyards all sealed up.

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