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Mesa Airlines to Furlough 53 Pilots

The regional airline announced the furloughs in an email to pilots on Friday.

A Mesa Airlines CRJ-900 in Phoenix (Photo: Shutterstock)

Mesa is the latest airline to trim its pilot workforce, citing “a significant and unexpected reduction in pilot attrition levels” among the reasons for 53 furloughs. The move comes despite the carrier’s recent positive quarter, which saw $6.3 million in reported net profit.

According to various sources familiar with the furloughs, an announcement was sent to pilots via email on Friday. In addition to the mentioned pilot attrition levels, the Phoenix-based airline said United also made recent changes to its fleet plan.

Mesa has 69 active aircraft in its fleet, including 17 CRJ-900s and 52 Embraer E175s. After ending its contract with American in early 2023, the regional carrier exclusively flies under the United Express brand.

Recently, the carrier has been selling several of its CRJ-900s as part of an effort to reduce surplus aircraft. It recently completed the sale of six CRJ-900 jets in early June.

In late May, Mesa announced that it would wind down a capacity agreement with DHL, citing a lull in cargo demand. The carrier operated four 737-400 cargo jets since entering into the agreement in 2020.

During a Q1 2024 earnings call, fellow regional operator SkyWest announced that it would receive 20 additional E175s owned by United. The carrier’s commercial chief Wade Steel said these jets would come from another United Express carrier, but did not provide any specific details.

“During the quarter, we announced a new flying agreement for 20 United-owned E175s to replace 20 CRJ200s under our United contract. These aircraft are coming from another United Express carrier,” Steel said.

Data from Cirium Fleet Analyzer reveals that these aircraft appear to be coming from Mesa. So far, 11 E175s have been transitioned from Mesa to SkyWest.

“Given the current level of attrition and ongoing discussions with United to increase utilization, we are hopeful to begin recalling pilots prior to the end of the year,” Mesa CEO Jonathan Ornstein said as part of a statement on Friday.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Saturday, June 29, 2024 at 4:27 p.m. ET to add a statement from the carrier. 

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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