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IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1989
Commenced operations August 1, 1989
Hubs As United Express:
Newark Liberty International Airport
Washington Dulles International Airport
Frequent-flyer program MileagePlus
Alliance Star Alliance (affiliate)
Fleet size 36
Destinations 30 +
Headquarters North Olmsted, Ohio
Key people John Sullivan: Executive Chairman; Subodh Karnik: President and CEO; Joel Raymond: Chief Operating Officer; Sean Frick: CFO.
Employees 900 +

CommutAir, operating as United Express, is an American regional airline founded in 1989, and is majority-owned by Champlain Enterprises Inc. Today, CommutAir operates more than 800 weekly flights to 30 plus destinations, with Bombardier Q200 and Embraer ERJ-145XR aircraft, from its bases in Newark, Albany, and Dulles.


In 1979, a commuter airline using the name Commutair operated intercity shuttle service in the Houston, Texas area between Hobby Airport (HOU) and Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and also between Sugarland Airport (SGR) and Intercontinental Airport (IAH) with de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter and Beechcraft twin turboprop aircraft.[1]

United Express Bombardier Dash 8-Q200 operated by CommutAir
Facing forward in the passenger cabin of a CommutAir Airlines Beechcraft 1900D

The airline was established in 1989, with headquarters at Clinton County Airport in Plattsburgh, New York. Operations began on August 1, 1989 as a marketing affiliate of US Air.[2][3]

The airline changed affiliations to Continental Airlines in December 2000, when US Airways and CommutAir failed to reach a mutually acceptable extension agreement, and thus decided not to renew the codeshare agreement. In July 2001, the company announced plans to downsize its fleet and workforce by approximately half and change the route structure of the airline. In early 2002, the company began a "micro-hub" operation based in Albany, New York. At its high point in 2003 and 2004 the hub served 15 cities within the Northeast and Canada with a fleet of Beechcraft 1900s. Service was also provided out of Boston's Logan International Airport to several Northeast cities.

In January 2003, CommutAir announced an agreement with Continental to feed the latter's Cleveland, Ohio hub. Service commenced on March 16, 2003 serving Kalamazoo, Michigan and Elmira, New York. Two cities were added the following month and by August 2003, CommutAir served 12 cities from the Cleveland hub.

CommutAir leased sixteen Bombardier Q200 aircraft from Horizon Air in 2006. The following year, the Beech 1900s were phased out.

On October 30, 2007, the company moved all remaining operations from Clinton County Airport, due to the closure of the airport. All operations were then conducted out of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.[4]

On October 2, 2008, the company began operations out of Newark Liberty International Airport, following Continental Airlines plan to adjust to the softening industry.[5]

Commutair's pilot group voted for union representation by the Air Line Pilots Association in 2008.[6] That same year, Continental Airlines announced that it would cut flights and more than 3,000 jobs.[7] Subsequently, it was announced that some of CommutAir's flights would be eliminated as part of Continental's cutbacks.[8]

In 2011, United Airlines asked CommutAir to obtain five Bombardier Q300s. Two of the aircraft were allocated to Cleveland services and three aircraft were allocated to Newark services.

In 2012, CommutAir opened a hub at Washington-Dulles International Airport.

In July 2014, CommutAir closed its pilot base in Cleveland Hopkins International Airport after United Airlines withdrew its Cleveland hub.[9]

On November 9, 2015, CommutAir announced that it has reached an agreement with United Airlines to significantly increase the number of airplanes flown under the United Express brand by adding Embraer E145 jet operations to the company's existing fleet of Bombardier turbo-prop aircraft.

July 2016, CommutAir begins commercial service with its inaugural flight on the ERJ-145XR jet from Washington, DC to Columbia, SC. [10]

In September 2017, the Q300 was phased out. The Q200 fleet will begin a draw-down with the last to operate in January 2018.


CommutAir operates services to the following scheduled destinations (as of October 2016):


Crew bases[edit]


As of September 2017, the CommutAir fleet includes the following aircraft:[11][12]

Aircraft Active Orders Passengers Notes
Bombardier Q200 14 37 To be phased out by January 2018
Embraer ERJ-145 22 39 50
Total 36  

As of October 2016, CommutAir average fleet age was 16.3 years old.[13]

Historical fleet[edit]

The CommutAir fleet was once composed entirely of Beechcraft 1900D aircraft, operated for US Airways Express and later for Continental Connection.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

CommutAir Flight 4821[edit]

CommutAir Flight 4821, a Beechcraft 1900 operating for USAir Express was flying from Plattsburgh, New York to Newark, New Jersey, with stops in Saranac Lake and Albany in New York.[14] On January 3, 1992 the aircraft crashed into a wooded mountaintop as it was landing at Adirondack Regional Airport. Of the four people on board (two passengers and two crew), two were killed while the other two sustained serious injuries.[15] Shortly before the crash occurred, the aircraft had contacted Commutair officials on the ground at Lake Clear Airport.[16] The aircraft was new and the crew was experienced. Immediately following the accident, there was no clear cause.[17] Of the deceased, one was 23-year-old copilot Dean Montana, and one was an off-duty employee.[18]

The aircraft was not required to be equipped with a flight data recorder, therefore a flight data recorder was not present. The cockpit voice recorder was burned to the point that the data inside was not usable. The National Transportation Safety Board used aircraft position data from air traffic control, the aircraft wreckage, survivor interviews, and weather information to find its probable cause.[14]

The cause of the crash was determined to be pilot error in establishing a stabilized approach and cross-checking instruments. Factors related to the accident were: weather conditions and possible precipitation static interference, caused by inadequate grounding between the radome and fuselage that could have resulted in unreliable glide slope indications."[15]


  1. ^, Nov. 15, 1979 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Houston Intercontinental schedules
  2. ^ " History". Retrieved October 12, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Plattsburgh West CDP". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved May 24, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Delta announces Big Sky flight schedules;, October 02, 2007". 
  5. ^ "CommutAir Dodges Bullet". Regional Aviation News. June 16, 2008. 
  6. ^ "CommutAir Pilots Vote ALPA:NMB Election Results Show Overwhelming Support for Union". 
  7. ^ "Continental joins trend by cutting flights, workers". 
  8. ^ "Cleveland Hopkins takes hits in Continental cuts". 
  9. ^ "More jobs lost with CommutAir pulling pilot base out of Cleveland". Retrieved October 10, 2014. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "CommutAir Fleet". Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  12. ^ . Retrieved 5 July 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ "CommutAir Fleet Details and History". 2013-02-02. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  14. ^ a b "In reply refer to: A-94-74 through -76" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. March 28, 1994. Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  15. ^ a b "ASN Aircraft accident Beechcraft 1900C-1 N55000 Saranac Lake-Adirondack Airport, NY (SLK)". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved July 5, 2009. 
  16. ^ "2 die, 2 hurt in commuter plane crash". Chicago Tribune. January 4, 1992. Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  17. ^ "2 DIE IN BAFFLING CRASH OF NEW PLANE". The Buffalo News. January 5, 1992. Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  18. ^ "2 KILLED IN PLANE CRASH". The Palm Beach Post. January 4, 1992. 

External links[edit]