Mesa Air Group, Inc.
Founded by Larry Risley in 1982, Mesa Air Shuttle began scheduled service between
Farmington, NM and Albuquerque, NM using a nine passenger Piper Chieftan aircraft.
Mr. Risley, an aircraft mechanic by trade, mortgaged his house and Fixed Base Operation
business to start the airline. It was the beginning of what would grow to
be one of the world's largest independent regional airlines.
In its first ten years of business, Mesa grew from a Company with one aircraft serving
two cities to an organization operating 38 aircraft serving 63 cities. During this
same period, the Company transformed itself from a small closely held corporation
to a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol "MESA".
In 1989, the company expanded its operation through a codeshare agreement with Midwest
Express serving an extensive network of cities out of Milwaukee. This pattern of
growth continued with the acquisition of Aspen Airways in 1990. With the Aspen acquisition,
Mesa gained a codeshare agreement with United Airlines, operating as United Express
out of Denver.
Acquisitions continued with the purchase of Air Midwest in 1991 adding US Airways
as a codeshare partner, and West Air in 1992 adding additional United Express flying
in California and the Pacific Northwest. In addition, Mesa expanded further with
the creation of the Florida Gulf division operating under a codesharing agreement
with US Airways out of Tampa, FL in 1991, and added an America West codesharing
agreement in 1992. Two years later, Pittsburgh-based Crown Airways was acquired,
further strengthening Mesa's ties to US Airways. By 1995, approximately
95% of Mesa's flying was derived from operations associated with codesharing
agreements with United Airlines, USAir and America West Airlines. The early 1990s
clearly were years of tremendous growth and change for Mesa.
In 1997, Mesa suffered a setback as its code share agreement with United was not
renewed and independent jet flying in Texas was proving to be unprofitable.
In early 1998, Mesa recruited Jonathan Ornstein to return to the company as President
and CEO. Jonathan had held various positions at Mesa during 1987 to 1994.
From 1994 to 1998, Mr. Ornstein was CEO of Continental Express and President and
CEO of Virgin Express, a low fare airline based in Brussels.
In 1998, the new management team moved quickly to restore and expand Mesa's
codeshare relationships as its foundation for renewed growth and profitability.
Mesa renegotiated a new codeshare agreement with America West, relocated its corporate
headquarters from Farmington to Phoenix and expanded the outside representation
on the company's board of directors. By the end of 1998, the company was operating
24 CRJ 200 aircraft, 12 Dash 8 aircraft and 79 Beech1900 D aircraft.
Having returned to profitability, Mesa focused on continued growth opportunities.
In 1999 Mesa announced the acquisition of Charlotte-based CCAir, adding additional
US Airways routes. In addition, Mesa secured more regional jet flying with US Airways
expanding the fleet from 12 to 28 regional jets. 1999 also saw the growth of Mesa's
CRJ fleet with the addition of 13 CRJ 200s bringing the fleet total to 32. The
company also concluded negotiations with Embraer to add 36 ERJ 145 aircraft to the
By 2000, Mesa was moving forward on virtually every front and it was evident to
everyone that great things were happening. The America West codeshare agreement
was expanded from 17 to 22 regional jets and by now, 75% of Mesa's flying
was being conducted under revenue guarantee contracts. Mesa also reduced unprofitable
operations, including the removal of 17 19-seat turboprop aircraft from its fleet.
In 2001, Mesa announced an agreement with America West to add up to 40 larger CRJ
700 and 900 aircraft and became the launch customer for the new 86-seat Bombardier
In 2010 Mesa undertook a tremendous restructuring in which the company returned over 100
excess aircraft & drastically reorganized its operations to focus almost exclusively on the
operation of large regional jets. This restructuring was recognized by Mesa's partners in
February 2013 when US Airways awarded Mesa nine additional CRJ-900 aircraft. With its focus
trained on growth & long term success, Mesa Air Group is poised to continue its longstanding
role as a leader in the regional aviation industry.
Mesa's mission is to be the premier high quality, low cost regional airline.
We also look to innovate and pursue new opportunities in the rapidly changing airline
industry. The drive and determination which form the foundation of the company is
readily apparent today in the recently announced expanded CRJ-900 operations with US Airways.