What was to have been a routine milk run on March 19 from Nassau, Bahamas, to Orlando, Fla., for Comair Flight 5054 turned into several moments of sheer terror when the Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia began accruing a coating of ice as it entered IMC at 18,000 ft about 46 min after takeoff.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines’ “realignment” of its regional subsidiaries reached the top levels of management last month, when Delta senior v-p of strategy and business development Fred Buttrell became president and CEO of Delta Connection. Buttrell replaced long-time Comair CEO David Siebenburgen, considered by many the father of the regional jet movement in the U.S.
The profound damage inflicted by the September 11 terrorist attacks brought changes to the U.S. airline industry the most prescient observer could not have envisioned three months ago. Twenty-percent industrywide capacity cuts, furloughs and layoffs, large-scale route transfers from mainline carriers to regional affiliates and aircraft delivery deferrals have all marked one of the most volatile periods in the industry’s history.
Divergent conditions in the regional airline business and the business jet realm have conspired to create a potential boon for completion companies involved in converting Bombardier CRJs into executive transports.
In a move widely expected to portend an industry trend in years to come, Continental Airlines last month confirmed its intention to sell 20 percent of its now wholly owned Continental Express subsidiary on September 1, laying the foundation for an eventual full spin-off of the Houston-based regional airline.
An unsettling air of ambivalence descended on Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Airport last month as Comair pilots ended an 89-day strike that cost Delta Air Lines at least $200 million and an untold number of non-striking employees their jobs.
Mesa Air Group last month reversed its decision to establish a new Cincinnati base and canceled all the flights scheduled to six cities from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport for July 8. Mesa contacted all affected passengers and reaccommodated them on Delta Air Lines or Comair flights.
Bombardier won a long-anticipated and hard-fought operational lease deal from Northwest Airlines for 75 CRJ-440 regional jets, the newly designated 44-passenger version of the 50-seat CRJ-200. The airline has also taken options on an additional 175 CRJ-440s.
At EBACE this week, Tailwind Capital unveiled the first of five Bombardier CRJ conversions it plans to sell to business aviation customers. Called the Hemisphere 200XR, the airplane will go to Dutch concern Solidair outfitted with a 15-passenger cabin and an FAA-certified fuel system that extends range out to 3,000 nm.
Airline executives whose predictions of regional divestitures raised eyebrows just two years ago watched their prophesies turn to hard reality in late February, as Northwest Airlines announced its intention to spin off its Memphis-based Express Airlines I subsidiary and Continental Airlines revisited its plans to divest itself from Continental Express.