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Mesaba Airlines Celebrates 60th Anniversary

Having celebrated the country’s birthday over the weekend, the people of Mesaba Airlines will spend the rest of the summer celebrating the airline’s 60th year of continuous service. Mesaba, a wholly owned subsidiary of MAIR Holdings, Inc. (MAIR), is celebrating its diamond anniversary with a number of events during the summer of 2004. “Sixty years in business is a remarkable accomplishment in any industry, but particularly in an airline industry that has seen so many operators come and go,” said John Spanjers, Mesaba’s president and chief operating officer. “It’s remarkable what the men and women of Mesaba have built in such a short time.”

The airline, founded in Coleraine, Minn., on July 4, 1944, is the nation’s oldest regional airline. Mesaba was founded by Gordy Newstrom as a charter service and flight school and has evolved into the country’s 8th largest regional airline - serving destinations throughout the United States and Canada under service agreements with Northwest Airlines.

The airline is commemorating its anniversary with posted banners in its hub and spoke station terminals, a reference in all arrival announcements on Mesaba flights, and a series of employee events in each of its hubs, spoke stations and bases.

“Mesaba’s sustained success is a credit to all of our employees,” Spanjers said. “They have advanced our reputation as a safe, reliable, customer-friendly airline and carried on the spirit upon which Gordy Newstrom founded Mesaba.”

Said Newstrom: “One thing they inherited from me is persistence.”


Newstrom owned the company for its first 26 years of operation, then sold it to a Duluth family who began the airline’s first scheduled service in 1973. Mesaba began its first codeshare agreement with Republic Airlines in 1983, and a year later began a codeshare agreement with Northwest.

This relationship has continued for the past 20 years. Mesaba now flies 99 aircraft for Northwest, under a capacity buy arrangement. Northwest buys all of the seats on planes operated by Mesaba and determines the pricing, route structure and schedules for all of those flights. Mesaba has 64 Saab SF340 and 35 Avro RJ85 aircraft in its fleet.

Newstrom, who will turn 92 on Aug. 31, still lives in Grand Rapids, Minn., and logged more than 40,000 hours in the cockpit until flying his last flight four years ago.

A timeline of Mesaba history is attached to this press release. An interactive history is available at