In September 2001, Jonathan Ornstein was in talks with Jeff Potter at Frontier Airlines for a codesharing deal out of Denver. In early 2002, Mesa started service as Frontier JetExpress operating with five CRJ-200 aircraft out of the “A” terminal at the Denver Airport to eight destinations: Albuquerque, Austin, Boise, Oklahoma City, Ontario, San Jose, Tucson and Wichita.
The following year, Mesa made a deal with United Airlines for a new codeshare arrangement that would involve flying regional jets out of Denver, Chicago O’Hare, and Washington Dulles airports. The new United deal also included Dash 8 flying to mountain resorts out of Denver. United’s new contract with Mesa did not allow for a codeshare with any other airlines out of those three main hub airports, so Mesa was in a position to have to step away from the partnership with Frontier in Denver.
Horizon Airlines took over the Frontier codeshare from Mesa flying CRJ-700 aircraft. Unlike the Mesa paint scheme that had the Mesa logo on the tail, the Horizon CRJs had pictures of wildlife on the tails like Frontier.
NOTE: This Friday I will be giving an update on the status of my book about Mesa.