Arizona's Mesa Air Group has entered into a conditional agreement with London-based consultancy Gramercy Associates, Ltd., over the establishment of a European ACMI/charter carrier that will operate a fleet of CRJ900 regional jets.

Mesa Air Group said the start-up would apply for an Air Operator's Certificate in the European Union to launch by year-end. Under the terms of the agreement, Mesa will own 49% of the partnership once the AOC is obtained. The aim, Mesa said, is to try and replicate its success in operating Capacity Purchase Agreements/ACMI contracts in the United States.

"We are looking forward to teaming up with Mesa to help bring the CPA and ACMI models that have been so successful in the US to Europe," Gramercy's Managing Director Tony Davis said.

Davis was previously the CEO of Singapore's Tiger Airways (TR, Singapore Changi) and the United Kingdom's bmibaby (WW, East Midlands). According to the UK business register, he has been a director at Gramercy since the consultancy was incorporated in 2012.

Mesa Airlines (YV, Phoenix Sky Harbor) operates a fleet of 150 regional jets, including fifty-four CRJ900s, under CPA agreements with American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth) and United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare). It also operates two B737-400(F)s under a CMI agreement with DHL Express and plans to expand its cargo business gradually.

Given the European market for long-term ACMI/CPA-type contracts using regional jets is far smaller than its Northern American counterpart, the bulk of the larger airlines active in this segment are wholly-owned subsidiaries of larger mainline carriers. This group includes HOP!, KLM cityhopper, Lufthansa CityLine, BA CityFlyer, Alitalia CityLiner, Air Dolomiti, and Portugália Airlines. The largest independent European carriers that operate regional jets on an ACMI basis are Air Nostrum, CityJet, Helvetic Airways, NoRRA Nordic Regional Airlines, and Xfly.