In Talks To Acquire Regional Carrier
Currently left out of the merger
mania surrounding four other US carriers, Northwest Airlines is
looking at an acquisition of its own: beleagured regional carrier
Unlike US Airways' hostile bid for Delta, however, and AirTran's
unwelcome offer for Midwest Airlines... Mesaba appears to be eager
and willing for Northwest to step in.
"Northwest ownership would secure our core business and, in the
long run, position us for growth," Mesaba president John Spanjers
wrote in a letter to employees.
Mesaba currently operates as an independent airline, although it
flies all its routes for Northwest. If Northwest purchases Mesaba,
it would operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary -- much as Comair
does for parent company Delta.
As Aero-News reported, Mesaba
filed for bankruptcy in October 2005, one month after Northwest, in
part because Northwest was unable to make scheduled payments to the
regional operator. The Eagan, MN-based carrier's fleet once
comprised over 100 aircraft, a mix of Avro regional jets and Saab
turboprops. That fleet has since been pared down to about 50
planes, nearly all of them props.
Such an arrangement does not conflict with Northwest's own
planned regional carrier, Compass Airlines, which will operate
Bombardier and Embraer RJs.
"Northwest believes that having Mesaba as part of the Northwest
family is the preferred way to operate the Northwest Saab 340
fleet," Northwest spokesman Bill Mellon told the Minneapolis-St.
Paul Star-Tribune. "The agreement would allow Northwest to continue
to offer service to a number of communities that depend on the Saab
fleet to provide convenient connections to Northwest's global
Mellon added the Northwest Creditors Committee has already
reviewed the acquistion plan... an indication the airline is
serious about purchasing Mesaba.
Analysts say the deal appears to cut out Mesaba's current
owner, MAIR Holdings. Mesaba employees have criticized the amount
of money paid to MAIR CEO Paul Foley, as they were asked to absorb
Northwest owns 28 percent of MAIR, its largest shareholder.