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Mesa purchases CCAir

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

Before Jonathan Ornstein returned to take over Mesa, he was part of an investor group that bought a significant amount of CCAir stock. It was no surprise to observers that Mesa purchased CCAir in June 1999. At that time CCAir had 10 Dash 8-100 and 20 British Aerospace J-31 Jetstream aircraft and they were operating as a US Airways feeder out of Charlotte, North Carolina.

CCAir began in 1979 as Sunbird Airlines, and then in 1986, a new owner changed the name to Carolina Commuter Airlines, or CCAir for short. At one time they operated as a Piedmont Commuter, but after Piedmont joined Allegheny Airlines at US Air, CCAir became a US Air partner.

The two pilot groups joined together to negotiate a merged seniority list in anticipation of merging the two airlines. This was groundbreaking, because it was the first time ALPA had arbitrated a merged seniority list for two pilot groups at companies who had yet to merge. The November 1999 edition of ALPA Airline Pilot magazine featured the two MEC Chairmen, Andy Hughes for Mesa and Jim Williams for CCAir, standing in front of a Mesa CRJ and a CCAir Dash 8 shaking hands after the seniority list was agreed to.

Later, Mesa management negotiated a pilot work agreement with the CCAir pilot group, but ALPA National rejected it because they felt the negotiated hourly pay rates to fly the regional jets were too low for the industry. After ALPA rejected the pilot contract, Mesa decided to shut down the company. The Mesa pilots negotiated with Mesa to hire the out-of-work CCAir pilots and allow them to assume their position relative to the merged seniority list. Several CCAir pilots took advantage of the offer of employment.

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