Data on market is public, Mesa says
Information Mesa used to enter the isle market was openly available, a Mesa consultant says
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Mesa Air Group's expert witness yesterday told a federal court that information Mesa had obtained under a confidentiality agreement with Hawaiian Airlines could be found in regulatory filings and other records generally available to industry analysts and competitors.
However, Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's president and chief executive officer, said that the testimony failed to show that all of the information Mesa got before it started the interisland carrier go! was in the public domain.
Closing arguments in the case are expected today. Hawaiian is seeking a one-year injunction on ticket sales by go! as well as $173 million in damages.
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An aviation consultant hired by Mesa Air Group testified yesterday that the information Hawaiian Airlines claims Mesa used when deciding to enter the Hawaii market could be found in public records.
Michael Boyd, president of the Boyd Group in Evergreen, Colo., told the U.S. Bankruptcy Court that all the information Mesa had obtained to analyze Hawaiian's operations could be found in regulatory filings and other records generally available to industry analysts and competitors.
He also said much of the information pertained to Hawaiian's mainland service, which was useless to Mesa because the Phoenix-based company wasn't planning to fly to the mainland.
Mesa decided to enter Hawaii based on favorable market conditions, including a high fare structure and the weak financial position of Aloha Airlines, which was in bankruptcy at the time, he said. Mesa launched its interisland carrier go! in June 2006.
"When you see a situation where two incumbents are in strife, that's an attractive market," Boyd said.
Mesa attorney Maxwell Blecher said Mesa doesn't plan to fly to the mainland in the future, either.
"If anything was confidential we're saying it didn't have any value or use to a company like Mesa," he said.
Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's president and chief executive officer, said that Boyd's testimony didn't demonstrate that all of the information -- such as Hawaiian's future projections -- was in the public domain.
"Today was a very significant day," Dunkerley said. "Hawaiian's contention that Mesa received confidential information is unrebutted."
Hawaiian is suing Mesa for misusing information Mesa obtained as a potential investor while Hawaiian was in bankruptcy. The local carrier is seeking a one-year injunction to prevent go! from selling tickets in Hawaii, in addition to $173 million in damages, plus interest and attorney's fees.
Bankruptcy Judge Robert Faris ruled last week that Mesa misused Hawaiian's information when it decided to enter the Hawaii market, and that the data was a substantial factor in Mesa's decision to come here. However, he didn't rule on the damages, if any, Hawaiian is entitled to receive and is not expected to decide on the matter this week.
Mesa's last witness, economics consultant Robert Wunderlich, today is scheduled to rebut the $173 million in damages Hawaiian is seeking. Closing arguments are expected to follow.