Northwest to leave Avro RJs at Mesaba

Mesaba Airlines has announced that Northwest Airlines will not terminate its contract to fly Avro RJ85s on behalf of Northwest Jet Airlink. Northwest indicated last fall that it was considering ending the contract because of high costs. Part of the problem is that the scope clause in Northwest’s contract with its pilots prevent Mesaba from operating aircraft with 70 seats or more, thus limiting the RJ85s to 69 seats. Withdrawing the RJ85s would have resulted in severe financial penalties, however. Northwest owns eleven of the RJ85s outright and leases the others from a variety of financial institutions. “We had an opportunity to conduct a detailed study and review our options, and we found economics that allow us to continue to operate the aircraft,” said Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch. The five RJ85s that were parked in December will be returned to service during the spring, bringing Mesaba’s active fleet back to thirty-five. An end to Avro RJ flying would have been a severe blow to Mesaba, as the fleet generates 40 percent of the airline’s revenues. Northwest has been expanding its Bombardier CRJ fleet, but so far has placed them all with wholly-owned subsidiary Pinnacle Airlines.

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