By Michael Garko, In Airline News
After 35 years of service, Delta Air Lines announced today that it will be shutting down all Comair operations effective September 29. The closure will cost 1,700 workers their jobs.
“While regional flying has and will remain a key component of Delta’s network, customer expectations and the unit costs of regional flying have evolved,” Don Bornhorst, Delta’s senior vice president of Delta Connection, said today in a company memo.
“In response, Delta recently announced its plans to reduce the total number of regional jets in its network while adding more mainline flying,” he says. “This includes reducing the number of 50-seat regional jets from nearly 350 aircraft to 125 or fewer in the upcoming years. As a result of this reduction and changes to its customer-focused business strategy, Delta has made the difficult decision to cease Comair’s operations.”
The Associated Press writes:
Comair was founded in 1977, flying three propeller-driven Piper Navajo aircraft. It started operating as Delta Connection in 1984 and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta in 2000. Comair helped expand the regional jet business when it began flying Bombardier CRJ jets.
The shutdown is not expected to significantly change Delta’s overall network, and the airline stated that it will keep up the number of flights out of its hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
According to the AP, Comair operated a majority of its 290 daily flights from Cincinnati as of March. Of its 1,700 workers, over 1,000 live in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area.
The move follows a recent trend in the airline industry of shedding regional carriers. In 2002, Continental Airlines spun off its ExpressJet subsidiary. Delta sold off its Mesaba subsidiary to Pinnacle Airlines, and its Compass subsidiary to Trans States in 2010. American Airlines, which is under bankruptcy protection, continues to look for a purchaser of its American Eagle subsidiary.
Delta will continue regional flying through contracts with SkyWest Inc., Republic Airways Holdings Inc., Pinnacle, and Trans States Airlines.