Mesa Air Group's
Mesa reported that May's passenger miles, or the number of revenue-paying passengers times the number of miles flown, surged 80% to 464.1 million, versus 257.3 million in May 2003. In addition, the firm's load factor, or percentage of available seating filled with passengers, rose to 73.4% from 65.1%.
Unfortunately, these numbers are clouded by Mesa's continued reliance on ailing US Airways
Nevertheless, Mesa is not without resources. The company had $217 million in cash on its balance sheet as of March 31 and is profitable. Some reports have raised the possibility that Mesa may even go its own way as a low-cost regional carrier. Doing so, though, would be a significant undertaking that would probably negatively affect profitability.
In this year's first quarter, Mesa's revenue per seat mile was 13.2 cents, while operating cost per seat mile was 12.8 cents. Cost per seat mile seems high, but so does revenue. Compare the numbers to the same metrics for low-cost leader Southwest Airlines
At the moment, though, Mesa derives 99% of its passenger revenue from code-sharing agreements with other airlines, which, in addition to US Airways, include United Airlines, America West
In any case, Mesa seems to have the wherewithal to chart its own course. Whatever path it chooses, it should be an interesting ride.
Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer living in Chicago, Ill. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned here.