Mesa Air Group

(MESA) - Get Report

signed an agreement with Shenzhen Airlines to create a Chinese regional carrier, the first such deal reached by a U.S. airline.

The new airline is expected to start scheduled service within 12 months, initially operating 50-seat regional jets on domestic routes within China. Focus cities will include Shenzhen, Beijing, Nanjing and Zhengzhou.

Shenzhen Airlines was founded in 1992 and currently operates a fleet of 45 Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s, flying 100 routes within mainland China and Southeast Asia. The company has carried nearly 5.3 million passengers this year. China has just 70 regional jets in operation, flying for seven different carriers.

Currently, Mesa operates 199 aircraft with more than 1,300 daily departures to 173 cities, 43 states, Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas.

Mesa has deals to provide regional service domestically for

Delta

( DALRQ),

US Airways

(LCC)

and

United

( UAUA).