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Mesa Creates Florida Gulf Airlines

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Shortly after Mesa purchased Air Midwest, Larry Risley sent Robert Priddy (previous CEO of Air Midwest) to Florida to start a new airline called Florida Gulf. The airline would operate under the Mesa Airlines operating certificate but be treated as a different subsidiary company. Mesa and Skyways pilots were offered the opportunity to resign their Mesa or Skyways seniority, and go to the new carrier. Only three took them up on the offer. Fourteen Mesa first officers took an early upgrade to captain to go to Florida Gulf, and eighteen new hires, some from defunct L’Express and Bar Harbor Airlines, were hired.


The company was a US Air Express carrier, serving the hub of Tampa, with a maintenance hangar and headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. They started out with BE1900Cs and eventually replaced them with 1900D models. Within a year of founding, the company had grown to fourteen airplanes providing air service to twenty-two cities with 150 employees.


Florida Gulf decided to try some seasonal markets and moved crews up north to fly out of Boston to Hyannis Port, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard. In July 1994, Mesa bought many of the assets of Pennsylvania Commuter Airlines dba Allegheny Commuter and Florida Gulf began to feed US Air out of their Philadelphia hub. The company built a maintenance hangar in Reading, Pennsylvania to service the airplanes up north.


Also in 1994, the company moved some of WestAir’s parked Embraer Brasilia aircraft to fly out of the Florida Gulf system. In 1997, because of an FAA consent decree, Mesa Air Group reorganized into divisions that represented the different codeshare partners (US Air, United, America West, and Mesa independent), and the Florida Gulf management structure became part of the US Air Division.








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