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Wed, Apr 30, 2008

Durango Airport Says Mesa Was Behind On Its Bills

Regional Carrier Was Two Months Late On Rent, Fees

Given the current state of the domestic airline industry, it may not be much longer before smaller airports start insisting on upfront payment from the airlines serving them. Just ask officials at Durango-La Plata County Airport (DRO) in southwestern Colorado.

The Durango Herald reports Mesa Air Group, which operates the airport's only nonstop flight to Phoenix under the US Airways Express banner, was about two months behind in paying its terminal rent and landing fees earlier this month. That works out to approximately $59,000, according to DRO Director of Aviation Ron Dent.

Mesa did eventually cut DRO a check for the balance, and Dent noted the airline was "pretty apologetic" about the lapse. But this wasn't the first time Mesa has fallen behind in the past seven months -- after Mesa was hit with an $80 million judgment for illegally underpricing fares operated by its go! Airlines subsidiary in Hawaii, as ANN reported.

"They get behind, we chase them and then they pay us," Dent said.

To address the delinquent nature of Mesa's accounts with the airport, Dent adds the airport commission recently met to consider whether to require Mesa to pay a three-month security deposit, against future late payments.

While Mesa's the only carrier at DRO with direct service to Phoenix, it isn't the only game in town. Delta Connection flies to Salt Lake City, and United Express offers routes to Denver. Frontier Airlines -- which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy -- recently began service to Denver, as well.

FMI: www.durangogov.org/services/airport.html, www.mesa-air.com

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