8 MARCH 2021


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Article from BTNews 8 MARCH 2021

Mesa Airlines for Europe?

US regional Mesa Airlines is looking to start its own European airline from the end of this year Bernard Lavelle reports.

Mesa’s model, as used in the US, is to act as a feeder airline into American and United Airlines hubs, under the American Eagle and United Express brands. They often work under Capacity Purchase Agreements, whereby American and United make medium to long-term agreements with Mesa to provide capacity on their regional routes.

For mainline carriers such as American and United, it allows them to quickly start and develop regional routes and feed their main hubs. There is a greater flexibility for mainline carriers as they have control over where their providers fly to and when, so they can maximise the benefits of their hub and spoke model. In addition, they can switch capacity quickly to regional routes that need it most.

The model has been successful in the US but will it function in Europe? It has been tried before although as more of a wet-lease operation. In 2006, Transwede Airways, which was part of the Braathens group (who are now behind the launch of the new Norwegian airline Flyr) started operations on behalf of SAS from Stockholm and later from Copenhagen, into London City Airport (LCY). SAS did not have the approved aircraft type to operate into LCY. More recently, CityJet were providing capacity to SAS, Aer Lingus and Brussels Airlines. There tends to be more point-to-point flying in Europe, compared to the US hub and spoke model so this might count against Mesa’s operations in Europe.

Time will tell if the US model will work in Europe. Recent history is not on their side but if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that aviation is changing.  And who will the partner be assuming the ownership meets EU rules?


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