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Mesa gets E-jets

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

While Mesa was working with American Airlines on becoming an American Eagle carrier, they also were working with United to expand their United Express deal. In September 2013, Mesa signed an agreement with United to extend the existing agreement for the twenty CRJ-700s in Dulles to the year 2019 and to add thirty Embraer E-175 jets to Houston. Mesa said they would hire 350 pilots, 300 flight attendants, and 200 maintenance personnel to the new E-jet operation. In February 2015 the E-jet operation grew by an additional eleven E-jets.

Then in December 2015, Mesa announced the purchase of eleven new E-175 jets using a type of financing not seen before in the regional industry. The first E-jets had been purchased by United and leased back to Mesa. These last jets were purchased using enhanced equipment trust certificates (EETC), which were a form of corporate debt issued by an airline and secured by a pool of other aircraft or related collateral. At this point, Mesa had dissolved its Go! operation in Hawaii and abandoned its CRJ-200 airplanes and that left the company with only three jets types: the CRJ-700, CRJ-900, and the Embraer E-175.

Eventually, United would purchase the CRJ-700s from Mesa and convert them to 50-passenger CRJ-550s. These were given to other United Express carriers. Mesa replaced the Dulles flying with the E-175s, and Mesa’s 2021 annual report showed Mesa operating 80 of the E-jets. When American canceled Mesa’s codeshare in April 2023, United had worked out a deal with Mesa to take on the remaining 38 CRJ-900s from the American system. Those airplanes were painted with a generic white fuselage and a black tail with the Mesa logo. Because United didn’t want to lose any of the pilots or mechanics, which were in short supply in the industry, they allowed Mesa to keep their crew and maintenance domiciles, and then worked their schedules to flow the CRJs into the United system out of the Dallas and Phoenix hubs. In order to maintain compliance with the scope agreement United had with their pilots, they agreed to park 38 E-jets in order to take on the CRJs. Because Mesa didn’t paint the CRJs in United Express colors, it remains to be seen if the future plans are to eventually transition the Mesa crews from the CRJs to the parked E-jets.

Mesa eventually would fly 80 of the Embraer E-175 jets as United Express.

A Mesa Embraer E-175 parked at the hangar in Phoenix.

The CRJ-900s that had been flown as American Eagle were painted in a generic "black tail" livery and transferred to the United system.

Because of the height of the E-jets and the fact they did not have airstairs, Mesa purchased an emergency slide egress trainer for the E-jets to be placed in the training center in Phoenix.

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