ACA/Mesa Update or Congress is Good for Something


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Expect a BIG announcement on 11-19.


Congressmen Weigh In Against Mesa's Bid for Atlantic

By Eric Gillin
Staff Reporter
11/11/2003 03:18 PM EST
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Mesa Airlines' (MESA:Nasdaq - commentary - research) hostile bid for Atlantic Coast Airlines (ACAI:Nasdaq - commentary - research) is getting stickier, with a handful of government officials asking the Department of Transportation to investigate the bid to see if it would harm consumers, according to ACA.

Last Thursday, Rep. Joe Wilson (R., S.C.) and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.) wrote letters to Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and Inspector General Kenneth Mead expressing concern that a Mesa takeover would hurt consumers by erasing ACA's plan to become a low-cost carrier that would serve the Washington, D.C. area, ACA said. Other Congressmen, including Sen. Gordon Smith (R., Ore.), have expressed similar concerns, according to ACA. ACA provided copies of the letters. Calls to the Congressmen weren't returned.

"I am concerned that there will be an adverse impact on competition and consumers if Mesa is successful in derailing [ACA's] plan to offer low-fare service from Dulles," wrote Wilson in his letter.

Pointing out that ACA would be the first low-cost carrier based from Dulles, which would serve constituents in and around J.F.K. Airport in New York, Meeks asked Mineta to examine the competitive landscape if Mesa became the nation's largest regional airline by taking over ACA.

"I respectfully request that you investigate this situation. I would also appreciate your observations on the likely consumer benefits of the planned ACA operation for air travelers on the East Coast, including those in the New York area," wrote Meeks.

In an interview with, Mesa CEO Jon Ornstein said the antitrust concerns are irrelevant and that the company's takeover bid will remain. "Given that all we're doing is maintaining the status quo, if there is an antitrust issue it should have occurred 14 years ago when ACA became a United Express carrier," said Ornstein. "The fact is Mesa and ACA have no routes that compete with each other."
This is excellent news. Mesa, while obviously a strong buisness presence, needs to back the f@&k off. ACA has provided excellent service since its beginnings in the late 80's. Mesa on the other hand has been fired from United service on more than one occasion for unacceptable service. I think ACA can really do well as a low cost airline, if they can develope a plan to keep the BIG BOYS off their back.