Mesaba AirlinesMesaba Airlines was founded by Gordy Newstrom in Coleraine, MN in 1944 and began operations the same year under the name of Mesaba Aviation. Mesaba Airlines had one airplane, a Piper Cub purchased for $1,300. Mesaba Airlines real reason for existence was to shuttle employees of the Blandin Paper Company from Grand Rapids, Minnesota to Minneapolis. In 1950 Newstrom moved the company to Grand Rapids.
In 1970, another family, the Halverson’s bought Mesaba from Newstrom. On 4 February 1973, they started regularly scheduled airline services serving rural Minnesota communities.
The Swenson family purchased Mesaba Aviation in 1977. In 1982 the Swenson family finally realized the potential for this burgeoning air carrier so they took the company public. At the same time the airline began flying to Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Codeshare became the name of the game for this small carrier. Mesaba Airlines became partner with Republic Airlines, flying from small regional communities to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. In 1986, after the merger of Republic Airlines and Northwest Orient Airlines, Mesaba transitioned their codeshare partnership, and began operations as a Northwest Airlink carrier.
Fast forward to the year 2000 where Mesaba, through a variety of partnerships and codesharings is now the operator of the largest fleet of Avro BAe 146/RJ aircraft in the world, and the second-largest operator of Saab 340's. Times are good for Mesaba Airlines, but just like when it rains, it pours; there is also the dry season to be wary of.
Northwest Airlines said in December of 2006 that it may buy Mesaba Airlines. Talks are still in the process of being arranged. The only damage in that could be that Mesaba Airlines workers could go on strike. Northwest is in Chapter 11, so even though they are a bigger carrier, Mesaba Airlines would no doubt feel the ripple effects of the Chapter 11 and its aftershocks. In fact, Mesaba Airlines has already announced that their flights would be cut by half, and while the unions have agreed tentatively, that doesn’t mean a whole lot in the world of unionized labor. Pilots, attendants, and mechanics could strike at any moment; Mesaba airlines better beware.