Mesaba gets first 76-seater

Mesaba Airlines will begin operating the first of three dozen 76-seat jets Thursday.

The new Canadair Regional Jets (CRJs) will include first-class cabins with 12 seats and coach cabins with 64 seats - four seats in a row, two on each side of the aisle.

Northwest Airlines acquired Mesaba this year while both were in bankruptcy. Northwest has chosen its subsidiaries, Mesaba and Compass Airlines, to fly the new jets. The new Compass will begin operating 76-seat Embraer jets later this year.

Mesaba's first CRJ flights will originate in the Twin Cities hub and serve Dallas-Fort Worth, Fargo and Chicago's Midway airport.

"This is a significant step in the growth of Mesaba Airlines, and we are very excited to operate this state-of-the-art jet," said Mesaba spokeswoman Elizabeth Costello.

The twin-engine CRJs will take the place of the four-engine Avros that were phased out of Mesaba's fleet. The carrier will continue flying Saab turboprops and CRJs that seat 50 passengers.

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