Compass Airlines (North America)

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Compass Airlines
Compass Airlines.png
Founded 2006
Frequent-flyer program SkyMiles
Airport lounge Sky Clubs
Alliance SkyTeam
Fleet size 42
Destinations 50
Parent company Trans States Holdings
Headquarters Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport
Fort Snelling, Minnesota
Key people Rick Leach (President and CEO)

Compass Airlines is a regional airline headquartered in Delta Air Lines Building C at Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport in Fort Snelling, Hennepin County, Minnesota;[1][2] prior to December 16, 2009, it was headquartered in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, east of the Chantilly CDP.[3][4][5] The airline launched inaugural service with a single Bombardier CRJ200LR aircraft under the Northwest Airlink (now Delta Connection) brand between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Washington, D.C. on May 2, 2007. On August 21, 2007, it began flying two Embraer 175 76-passenger aircraft, and expanded to 36 aircraft by December 2008.

In July 2010, the airline was purchased from Delta Air Lines and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Trans States Holdings.


Former Northwest Airlink Embraer 175 operated by Compass

Compass Airlines was formed as a result of a contract dispute between Northwest Airlines and its pilots' union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The Northwest Airlines pilot group was asked to give relief on a section of their collective bargaining agreement governing "scope", which protects pilot jobs by ensuring that an airline's customers are flown by the employees of that airline. The pilots eventually agreed to a concession on the scope of their contract allowing a limited number of 76-seat aircraft to be flown by outsourced pilots working for a subcontractor regional airline. In exchange for their concession the Northwest Airlines pilots demanded in return that the pilots of these new aircraft would eventually "flow-up" into mainline pilot jobs at Northwest Airlines, and that Northwest Airlines pilots would retain the ability to "flow-down" into the newly subcontracted pilot jobs in the event that Northwest Airlines were to furlough the mainline pilots.

In order to adapt to the agreement, and fulfill a need to serve the regional markets with smaller, more efficient aircraft and a dramatically reduced wage labor force, Northwest bought the operating certificate of bankrupt Independence Air on March 10th, 2006 for $2 million. During the concept phase, the subsidiary was known as "NewCo". Compass' operations are limited to 76-seat aircraft or less, due to the language in the pilot contract at the mainline carrier.

On September 28, 2006, Compass Airlines officially received approval from the United States Department of Transportation to begin operations. On April 5, 2007, Compass Airlines received FAA certification to begin commercial passenger operations with a CRJ-200[6]

On May 2, 2007, the airline had their first revenue flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport,[7] which maintained the operating certificate. Compass implemented Embraer operations on August 21, 2007.

On July 1, 2010, Delta Air Lines announced that it sold Compass Airlines to Trans States Holdings for US$20.5 million.[8]



As of December 2013, the Compass Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft:[9]

Aircraft Total Orders Passengers Notes
F EC Y Total
Embraer E-170 6 0 9 12 48 69 Ex-Virgin Australia
Embraer E-175 36 0 12 12 52 76
Total 42 0  

All Compass Airlines aircraft are operated as Delta Connection.

Labor relations[edit]

Both the Pilot and Flight Attendant groups are unionized, with the Pilots being represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, and the Flight Attendants represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA). The pilots are covered by a collective bargaining agreement negotiated at the time the airline was created in 2007. The flight attendants elected AFA on November 18, 2009, by a two-to-one margin.[citation needed]

The flight attendants are in negotiations for their first contract.[when?] Issues included substandard wages, benefits and working conditions, and specifically unfair labor practices, such as terminations and unequal treatment within the labor group.[citation needed]

On August 25, 2010, Compass Airlines fired a flight attendant after she appeared on a local television program admitting publicly that she qualified for food stamps, even though she was a full-time employee of the airline.[10]


  • On May 8, 2008, Compass Airlines Flight 2040 bound for Regina, Saskatchewan from Minneapolis with 74 passengers and 4 crew on board was forced to land in Fargo, North Dakota after a fire broke out in the restroom. The plane landed at 11:00 pm; no injuries to passengers were reported. A week after the incident, a 19-year-old flight attendant was charged with starting the fire.[11] He pleaded not guilty, but before trial, he fled to Mexico. He was arrested in Mexico April 5, 2011, and will be extradited to the US to stand trial.[12]
  • On November 15, 2010, Compass Airlines Flight 5887 bound for Missoula, Montana from Minneapolis with 76 passengers and 4 crew on board was forced to return to Minneapolis after the aircraft received substantial damage when it collided with a flock of birds. The plane landed 22 minutes after departure; no injuries to passengers were reported.[13]


  1. ^ "Expanded Branch and ATM Access Comes to the Twin Cities." Wings Financial. Retrieved on January 19, 2012. "Delta Air Lines Bldg. C* 7500 Airline Drive Minneapolis, MN"
  2. ^ "delta air lines' farmers market-building c." Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Retrieved on January 19, 2012. "Location: MSP Airport-Delta Building C, North Side near Compass Airlines Entrance"
  3. ^ "About Us." Compass Airlines. Retrieved on September 26, 2009 and on December 18, 2009.
  4. ^ "Chantilly CDP, Virginia." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on September 26, 2009.
  5. ^ "Fort Snelling UT, Hennepin county, Minnesota." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on December 19, 2009.
  6. ^ Compass Airlines Receives DOT & FAA Approval To Begin Operations (USA Today: April 6, 2007)
  7. ^ Northwest Airlines' Subsidiary Compass Takes Off (New York Times: May 2, 2007)
  8. ^ "Delta to sell Mesaba and Compass for $82.5 million". 1 July 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  9. ^ "Compass Airlines USA". Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  10. ^ Flight Attendant Gets Fired For Saying She Qualifies For Food Stamps (Aviation Online Magazine, August 28, 2010. Accessed September 6, 2010.)
  11. ^ Angry flight attendant charged with setting fire on plane (CNN: May 15, 2008)
  12. ^ [1](WDAY: April 5, 2011)
  13. ^ [2] (The Aviation Herald: January 19, 2011)

External links[edit]