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RAA 2015: Ornstein warns of over-regulation effects

“I bit my tongue at the RAA past presidents’ lunch because I was appalled to hear that one past president thought there had been a good fight on behalf of the Part 135 operators when carriers were forced to switch to Part 121,” remarked Jonathan Ornstein, Mesa Airlines’ chairman and CEO. “Now there are barely any Part 135 operators left. We need to learn from our mistakes, because if we don’t stand up, even we might go.”Ornstein bemoaned the level of over-regulation in the industry which, he said, “took away the 19-seat business, the 30 seaters and now looks like taking like 50-seat business. And we’re bumping up on scope [limits]. The FAR 117 and 1,500 hr rules have no foundation in safety. So I hope we take a different path and tell our story and do the right thing – even if we upset politicians.”Ornstein pointed to double standards over the number of hours qualified pilots need. “The military has guys flying dangerous sorties with just 400 hr, yet our pilots must have 1,500 hr before going into a right-hand seat,” he declared.Discussing Mesa’s operations, Ornstein was asked about the recent rebranding. “It’s a total marketing tool to attract people,” he replied. “The sole aim is to get people into the company [to enable its growth].”While Ornstein does see a future for 50-seat regional jets, he noted that a major challenge is that limited-life part (LLP) overhauls for many of the aircraft are coming up and they will be expensive. “The problem is that you can lease a hull for $10,000 a month, but an engine lease will cost you $50,000 a month,” he noted.Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.netCleveland, Ohio

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