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The Associated Press March 1, 2011, 4:30PM ET

Mesa Air emerges from bankruptcy protection

Regional airline operator Mesa Air Group said it emerged from 13 months of bankruptcy protection Tuesday as a private company with less debt.

Mesa said that during the reorganization it got rid of more than 100 excess planes and eliminated $700 million in capitalized leases and $50 million in debt.

The company said it also extended a partnership with US Airways through September 2015.

Mesa and its subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 protection in January 2010 after high fuel prices and an economic slowdown sent the airline industry into a tailspin. As fuel prices rose, so did the cost of operating Mesa's 50-seat regional jets. The company said getting rid of those smaller regional jets gives it an advantage over other regional airlines.

Mesa has 76 planes and operates about 450 daily flights in the United States and Mexico. It flies under the US Airways Express and United Express banners and as Hawaii's go! Mokulele airline.

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