Arizona-based ACMI and CMI operator Mesa Airlines is looking at acquisitions that would grow its cargo business and is also considering additional freighter platforms. The carrier entered the cargo space last year when it added to its air operator’s certificate two 737-400SFs (27157 and 27674) and began operating them on a CMI basis for DHL Express.
“There may be other cargo opportunities that present themselves to us,” said Mike Lotz, CFO of parent company Mesa Air Group, during an investor call with analysts. “It’s a lot easier to present yourself as a cargo operator as opposed to wanting to become a cargo operator.”
CEO Jonathan Ornstein said that the airline will “continue to pursue dedicated cargo opportunities,” and that cargo acquisitions and CMI fleet growth were being explored to fuel expansion. Mesa Air did not forecast any changes through September 2021 to the 737-400F fleet it operates for DHL, according to its Q1 Fiscal 2021 earnings filing for the period ended Dec. 31, 2020. Although bullish on cargo growth prospects, “I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight,” said Ornstein.
Additionally, Mesa did not rule out the possibility of diversifying its freighter fleet. While the company does not currently have immediate plans for -800s, it hinted that the platform is a possibility for the carrier. “I think that’s the direction things are going in terms of the freighter business,” said Ornstein. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the next aircraft that we did put on certificate would be a 737-800.”
DHL is set to grow its 737-800F fleet; the company acquired two units (30467, ex-SAS; and 30499, ex-Shenzhen Airlines) in December 2020 and recently told Cargo Facts that it expects to deploy them in the U.S. after conversion, but did not yet name a carrier.
DHL currently also has two 737-400SFs (26334 and 26455) and three 737-800BDSFs (30498, 28619 and 29668) operated by iAero Airways, and a 737-400SF (26316) flown by Kalitta Charters II.
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