Delta To Shut Down Regional Carrier Comair

Economic environment doesn't favor small jets

Comair, a regional carrier operated by Delta Airlines, will soon taxi to the hanger for the last time. The 35-year old airline will cease operations Sept. 29, 2012.

"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,” said Don Bornhorst, Sr. Vice-President of Delta Connection. “In response, Delta recently announced its plans to reduce the total number of regional jets in its network while adding more mainline flying.”

The plan 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," Bornhorst said.

One percent

Currently, Comair accounts for approximately one percent of Delta's network capacity, according to Comair President Ryan Gumm. Gumm said there will be no disruption to customers and no significant adjustments to Delta's flight schedule or locations served.

“All customers who travel on the Delta network, whether on Delta Connection flights or mainline aircraft, can continue to make travel plans with Delta as they have in the past,” the airline said in a statement.

Cincinnati and Detroit will be among the most affected cities since Comair operates hubs at both airports. In addition, it also maintains a hub at New York's LaGuardia Airport. Gumm said Cincinnati remains an important Delta market.

Still profitable

Delta said Cincinnati is now a profitable market for the airline and the city continues to enjoy over 120 peak daily flights, with non-stop service to 49 destinations. No reductions in the number of Delta flights is planned at Cincinnati as a result of this decision, Delta said.

Delta's recent move away from 50-seat aircraft in essence signaled Comair's fate. Comair operates some of the oldest 50-seat aircraft in the Delta Connection fleet, which also have the highest unit cost per flight hour.

With Delta's decision to remove the remaining 16 Comair 50-seaters from the Delta network, Comair was left with only 28 aircraft in scheduled service. The airline said the reduction in Comair's active fleet created higher unit costs, “which equates to a business model that is no longer sustainable in this competitive regional environment.”

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.
Consumer Affairs

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