MetroAir announces acquisition of new aircraft

MetroAir Newsdesk

Audio version of this release can be listened to here:

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ROMULUS, MI, February 20, 2009 — In a news conference at the airline’s Detroit headquarters, MetroAir Executives announced they have signed a memorandum of collaboration with Allegius Airlines in which Allegius will continue to provide regional service for an additional year. In signing this agreement, Allegius has finalized plans to purchase eight ( 8 ) Bombardier/Canadair CRJ-700 aircraft. The aircraft are expected to support plans to expand MetroAir’s current regional route network.

MetroAir CEO Matt Calsada explained: “The airline industry is an ever changing market and in order to succeed, our airline must be proactive in seeking out new opportunities wherever possible. By working closely with our partners at Allegius to develop and strengthen our regional feeder network, we have identified new markets which under our current structure we would be unable to service. As a result, we can confirm that Allegius has today signed agreements to purchase eight ( 8 ) Bombardier/Canadair CRJ-700 aircraft which will be used on exclusively on MetroAir routes.”

Mr. Calsada continued “Regional service is a significant backbone to the airline. The CRJ-700’s will complement the Q200 and Q400’s allowing us to increase and strengthen our regional service offerings while strengthening our mainline operations.”

Allegius CEO Robert Matthews went into specifics about the newly acquired aircraft. Mr. Matthews said,”Allegius has purchased the aircraft at a total cost of $121,000,000 USD. Six aircraft have considerable engine time however, we will be sending all aircraft for engine overhauls, C-Checks as well as repaint before they enter into active service, the costs of which were taken into consideration when we brokered the agreements with our vendors.”

Kim Gesch, MetroAir Chief Operating Officer then made a statement regarding the new aircraft’s future deployments. “We have been very pleased with the economics and performance of the Dash 8 aircraft. However, we are limited by the range of the aircraft. We limit the regional prop flights to 90 minutes or less for passenger comfort and feel the RJs can reach the markets that are beyond that time. The RJs will be used in markets that don’t have the demand for our A319 aircraft and as a way to establish the MetroAir brand for future growth. Once the demand in a market exceeded the capacity of the RJ we would start A319 service.” Mr. Gesch later said, “After the necessary maintenance work is completed, FAA regulatory issues will also need to be accomplished. We are currently planning to have the first CRJs in the Ontario and Washington hubs by the end of March or early April.”

When asked about what implications the new aircraft would have on current operations, VP of Operations Lindle Romero was on hand to say: “We have been planning this acquisition for some time now and as a pre-cursor to today’s announcement, made changes to our CAT ratings structure several weeks ago to minimize disruption to our pilots and allow our Hub Managers time to implement the necessary changes to our systems.”

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