Delta To Shed Saabs, EAS Routes

 - July 29, 2011, 10:20 AM

In an effort to halt $14 million in annual losses, Delta Air Lines plans to “adjust” flying in 24 markets in concert with the retirement of its Saab 340 turboprop fleet.

The airline said that load factors average 52 percent on the flights in the markets in question, flown primarily by regional subsidiary Mesaba Airlines, while some, it added, had fallen to as low as 12 percent. Delta registered a system-wide load factor of 83 percent last year.

Delta previously announced its intention to reduce capacity this fall by 4 percent and retire 140 aircraft.

Delta notified the DOT last month of its intention to exit 16 Essential Air Service markets, starting a 90-day period during which the other airlines may bid to serve the affected the communities. Delta said it has talked with other carriers about assuming responsibility for some of the routes, while it intends to continue to serve certain subsidized and non-subsidized markets with larger regional jets flown by Delta Connection partners.