Twilight has fallen unceremoniously on the heyday of the 50-seat regional jet, and Bombardier’s October 28 announcement that it would suspend production of the CRJ200 only underscored that fact. Of course, the recent bankruptcies of Northwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Independence Air haven’t helped, but signs of a meltdown came long before any CRJ operators stopped deliveries or started grounding airplanes.
The giant sucking sound generated by the bankruptcies of two of the largest airlines in the U.S. echoed last month through the financial community and across the air transport industry, including the regional airline sector. Among Delta’s various partners, wholly owned Comair stands to feel the most profound repercussions because it now too operates under Chapter 11 protection.
Comair will dispose of as many as 30 regional jets and slash between 600 and 1,000 jobs as part of a plan to cut costs by $70 million a year, the company announced last month.
Delta Air Lines sent another clear message to its wholly owned affiliates that it won’t hesitate to outsource more regional jet flying to independent partners when it signed Mesa Air Group as the latest Delta Connection carrier last month. The 12-year deal gives Mesa’s Freedom Airlines subsidiary the right to fly up to 30 fifty-seat Bombardier CRJ200s for Delta, the first of which it expects to put into service in October.
Former Comair flight attendant (FA) Gilbert Knops has filed suit against the airline, claiming his ethnic appearance and anti-war sentiment bred suspicion of an involvement in terrorism that led to his firing. According to the suit, a coworker reported him for showing her a sticker ridiculing “support the troops” car magnets and a cartoon lampooning President George W. Bush.
A last-ditch attempt to stave off bankruptcy by Delta Air Lines has seen St. George, Utah-based SkyWest agree to buy Delta Connection subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA). Scheduled for completion this month, the $425 million deal will make SkyWest by far the largest regional airline in the U.S., giving it a combined fleet of 372 airplanes, projected annual enplanements of more than 28 million and 13,400 employees.
When the nation’s news media rounded up the pundits to comment on the possible causes of the August 27 crash of Comair Flight 5191, many could conjure reasonable speculation about why the 50-seat Bombardier CRJ100 jet lined up on Lexington Blue Grass Airport’s 3,500-foot Runway 26 rather than the main, 7,000-foot, Runway 22.
Honeywell hopes the Comair crash prods airline executives to take a closer look at a software upgrade for its enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS) intended to warn crews of runway safety conflicts.
Delta AirElite, the Cincinnati-based executive charter and management company that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, had a record year, according to president and CEO Michael Green, but faces the prospect of being sold by the airline. The parent company has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since September 14 and has reportedly lost $11 billion over the last four years.
Members of the executive board of the local Teamsters chapter representing Comair’s 818 flight attendants unanimously passed a resolution to authorize a strike after the company asked a bankruptcy court judge to void their contract. The bankrupt regional airline has asked for $8.9 million in annual cost concessions from the group, which last month ended negotiations while it prepared for the March 27 to 29 hearings in New York City.