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Mesa Airlines Ends Cedar City Flight Service

Mesa Airlines Ends Cedar City Flight Service

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CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) -- After a year of repeated delays or canceled flights, officials from Phoenix-based Mesa Airlines said they'll end the carrier's operations from Cedar City Regional Airport.

A letter to city officials sent this week said flight service will end within 90 days -- about a year before the airline's contract for service is set to expire.

It's doubtful the planned departure will be on time, however.

Mesa can't leave until the U.S. Department of Transportation replaces the airline with another carrier, airport manager Steve Farmer said. It's unlikely that would happen so quickly, he said. "We will not be without air service at any point," Farmer said.

Mesa also plans to leave 16 other cities, including Moab and Vernal in Utah. "We are consolidating our operations and pulling back on some unprofitable (markets)," said Tom Bacon, Mesa's vice president of planning.

Mesa secured the contract at Cedar City's airport in 2006, underbidding SkyWest airlines.

But officials say the airport has suffered, with enplanements dropping 30 percent in the first four months of 2007. Mesa's inability to entice passengers also cost the city $1 million in federal grants last year, said Donna Brown, a member of the airport advisory board. "My perception has always been that their commitment has never been too high from the beginning. It's not a big surprise ... but it is a big disappointment," she said. Farmer said city official have begun negotiations with another carrier.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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