Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group is shedding as many as 250 jobs, prompted by the staggering economy and declining air passenger traffic in general and the loss of at least one contract with Delta Air Lines in particular.
About 100 management and administrative positions were eliminated last week, said Brian Gillman, Mesa's executive vice president and general counsel.
About 150 pilot jobs also were scrubbed, Gillman said, although it's not clear whether that has yet happened.
The company reported a surplus of up to 150 pilots, but only about 15 have so far received a furlough notice, said Brian Richardson, vice chairman for the pilots group.
Richardson said Mesa Air has offered pilots a voluntary leave program, but he doesn't know how many have taken the company up on the offer.
Mesa Air Group operates some flights as Mesa Airlines, and in Hawaii as Go!, an interisland subsidiary, but most of the company's business is flying regional service for major U.S. carriers such as Tempe-based US Airways, United Airlines and Delta.
The trigger for the recent job cuts was Delta's cancellation of a contract to fly CRJ-900 jets as part of its Delta Connection operation, Gillman said.
But the company also folded its Air Midwest subsidiary earlier this year, and US Airways has canceled flights as part of its own capacity reductions, exacerbating the situation, Richardson said.
Mesa Air already is suing Delta, which tried to cancel a much bigger Delta Connection operation earlier this year. Mesa has not yet filed suit regarding the smaller contract, Gillman said. It still might, he said, seeking monetary compensation for the loss of business.
But the much bigger Delta contract is critical to Mesa Air's viability, Gillman said, so the company will continue the fight to keep flying that service.
Losing that business would "have severe adverse consequences for us," Gillman said.
In a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing in May, Mesa Air said it would not be able to meet its financial obligations and would likely slip into bankruptcy if Delta canceled the contract.