Mesa Airlines (YV, Phoenix Sky Harbor) took delivery of its first B737-400(SF) due to be deployed for cargo ACMI operations as opposed to the airline's existing commitment with DHL Express.

N708DA (msn 24769) was ferried after conversion from Kelowna to Phoenix Sky Harbor on February 17, 2022, but has yet to be deployed into revenue service, Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows. The airline told Cargo Facts that it had yet to secure commitments for the freighter. The 32-year-old aircraft was last operated as a passenger jet by Flair Airlines and is owned by Kelowna Flightcraft, the ch-aviation fleets module reveals.

Mesa expanded from its historical business model as a regional capacity provider to add cargo services in late 2020. It currently operates two B737-400(SF)s under a CMI deal with DHL out of Cincinnati International - both aircraft are owned by Vx Capital Partners and subleased to the airline by the cargo integrator. The third aircraft, in addition to potential ACMI deals, will serve as a spare for the pair. In contrast to the first two, it is not painted in DHL's livery but sports Mesa's own branding.

Mesa Air Group's Chief Executive Jonathan Ornstein said during the quarterly investor call in early February that the airline saw a potential to grow its cargo operations. However, the pace of this expansion was conditional upon "what do the cargo operators see as the demand for narrowbody aircraft in their system", he stressed.

Ornstein added that the group was progressing with the certification of its European 49/51 joint-venture with Gramercy Associates and was on track to complete it by mid-2022. The as-of-yet unnamed carrier will operate as a regional capacity provider based on the same business model as Mesa Airlines' core US operationss.