Indianapolis-based Chautauqua Airlines added its fourth code-share contract last month when it inked a 10-year deal with Delta Air Lines to fly at least 22 Embraer regional jets from Orlando, Fla., as Delta Connection. The new code-share deal accompanied a $350 million firm order for fifteen 37-seat ERJ-135s and seven 50-seat ERJ-145s–this year’s first to a commercial airline for Brazil’s Embraer–as well as options on 30 of any combination of ERJ-135s, 44-seat ERJ-140s and ERJ-145s.
A fee-per-departure “contract-style” arrangement, Chautauqua’s contract with Delta takes effect this November, by which time the Indianapolis-based airline will have taken delivery of its first two Embraer jets for its Delta Connection service. Based on the number of airplanes Chautauqua expects to place in Orlando, the airline will need to add roughly 550 employees by the end of next year.
Under the contract, Chautauqua will use the Delta-leased facilities now occupied by wholly owned Delta Connection partner Comair, which expects to replace its last seven Orlando-based Embraer Brasilias with Bombardier CRJs by the end of September. Soon after Chautauqua starts service, Delta plans to reallocate the seven CRJs to other bases and close Comair’s Orlando crew domicile. All told, Delta Connection will increase its daily Orlando departures from 84 to 168 by the end of next year.
The deal with Delta comes at a fortuitous time for Chautauqua, currently in the process of issuing an $85 million initial public stock offering. At press time flying 26 ERJ-145s as US Airways Express, seven ERJ-145s as America West Express and 11 ERJ-140s as American Connection, it plans by next month to repaint another five ex-TW Express ERJ-145s in America West colors. It also plans to close its Fort Wayne, Ind. maintenance base next month as it completely withdraws from Saab 340 flying.