Delta Connection is a regional airline brand name for Delta Air Lines, under which a number of individually owned regional airlines operate short- and medium-haul routes. Delta's lone wholly owned regional airline, Endeavor Air, also resides under the Delta Connection banner. Mainline carriers often use regional airlines to operate services in order to increase frequency, serve routes that would not sustain larger aircraft, or for other competitive reasons.
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Delta Connection was founded in 1984 as a means of expanding the Delta network to smaller markets via partnerships with regional airlines. Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) began Delta Connection service on March 1, 1984, from their hub in Atlanta, and soon had a substantial presence at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. ASA was a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines under the Delta Connection, Inc., holding company from May 11, 1999, to September 7, 2005, when it was purchased by SkyWest, Inc, the parent company of SkyWest Airlines.
Ransome Airlines operated Delta Connection flights from March 1, 1984, to June 1, 1986, when it was purchased by Pan Am. Comair began Delta Connection service on September 1, 1984. In January 2000, Comair became a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. Rio Airways operated Delta Connection flights from their hub in Dallas/Fort Worth from June 1, 1984, to December 14, 1986, when the airline declared bankruptcy. Business Express Airlines operated Delta Connection flights in the northeastern US and Canada from June 1, 1986, to March 15, 2000. The company was purchased by AMR Corporation in 1999 and integrated into the American Eagle Airlines system in 2000. Following the acquisition of Western Airlines by Delta Air Lines, SkyWest Airlines, which had been operating codeshare service flying as Western Express for Western, became a Delta Connection carrier in 1987. Trans States Airlines operated Delta Connection flights from March 1998 to March 31, 2000, mainly from their focus cities in Boston and New York.
On November 2, 2004, Atlantic Coast Airlines ended service as a Delta Connection Carrier. Atlantic Coast Airlines reinvented itself as a low fare carrier called Independence Air, based at Washington Dulles International Airport.
On December 22, 2004, Delta Air Lines announced that Republic Airways would order and operate 16 Embraer 170 aircraft under the Delta Connection banner. Since then, it has been announced that the Republic Airways subsidiary Shuttle America would operate the flights. The initial flight took place on September 1, 2005. On May 4, 2005, Delta Air Lines announced that Mesa Air Group subsidiary Freedom Airlines would operate up to 30 Bombardier CRJ-200 aircraft under the Delta Connection banner beginning in October 2005. Shortly after the announcement, the decision was made for Freedom Airlines to operate the Embraer ERJ 145 for Delta Connection instead of the CRJ. After a legal battle with Mesa Air Group, Delta and Freedom Airlines terminated their contract in 2010. On December 21, 2006, Delta announced that Big Sky Airlines would become a Delta Connection carrier, using eight Beechcraft 1900 turboprops out of Boston Logan International Airport.
On March 1, 2007, it was announced that ExpressJet would operate 10 Embraer ERJ 145XR aircraft under the Delta Connection banner beginning in June 2007 on flights from Los Angeles International Airport. It was later announced that ExpressJet would operate an additional eight aircraft as Delta Connection. On July 3, 2008, Delta and ExpressJet announced that they had terminated their agreement and that ExpressJet operations as Delta Connection would end by September 1, 2008. On April 30, 2007, it was announced that Pinnacle Airlines would operate 16 Bombardier CRJ-900 under the Delta Connection banner starting in December 2007.
The merger of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines meant that Northwest's regional brand, Northwest Airlink, would be merged into Delta Connection. The new Delta Connection would include the regional airlines from both the original Delta and Northwest. On November 8, 2008, Delta and Mesaba Airlines, a former fully owned regional subsidiary of Northwest Airlines that operated as Northwest Airlink, announced that the seven CRJ-900 aircraft previously operated by Freedom as well as eight new-order aircraft would be operated for Delta Connection beginning February 12, 2009.
Citing cost reductions, Delta Air Lines sold former Northwest regional subsidiary Mesaba Airlines on July 1, 2010, to Pinnacle Airlines Corp. for $62 million. Its headquarters were moved to Pinnacle's in Memphis on December 26, 2011. Mesaba merged its operations into Pinnacle on January 4, 2012. The same day, Trans States Holdings purchased Compass Airlines for $20.5 million. It has maintained both regional operations with the airlines as of January 1, 2012.
Regional carrier GoJet Airlines, also owned by Trans States Holdings, began operations from Detroit Wayne County Metropolitan Airport to cities in the Midwest using 15 CRJ-700 aircraft on January 11, 2012.
Following a merger between Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) and ExpressJet, Delta Connection flights operated under the latter's name and ceased operations as ASA. All routes remained the same, but the flights began operating as ExpressJet beginning in 2012.
On July 25, 2012, Delta announced that its wholly owned subsidiary Comair would cease all operations at midnight on September 28, 2012.
On December 31, 2014, Chautauqua operated its last flight for Delta Connection. All aircraft and crew & maintenance bases would be absorbed by the Shuttle America certificate. The conclusion of this service also removed the last operating three seat wide aircraft from the Delta Connection fleet.
On August 9, 2017, it was announced that Delta and ExpressJet would terminate their agreement early with all operations ended in late 2018. The remaining dual-class aircraft financed by Delta would be transferred to Endeavor while ExpressJet would redistribute their financed aircraft to other flying partners. Delta cited ExpressJet's lacking operational performance and focus on trimming their 50-seat fleet as the main reason for terminating the contract early.
In August 2019, Delta announced that the regional fleet would be consolidated from 5 carriers to 3, eliminating GoJet Airlines and Compass Airlines. The DCI aircraft and routes would be transferred to the three remaining carriers (SkyWest Airlines, Republic Airways, and Endeavor Air). Endeavor, Republic, and SkyWest would each focus on different geographic regions, with SkyWest becoming the primary regional partner in LAX, SLC, and SEA; and Endeavor growing in DTW, CVG, and RDU.
Operators and fleet
With the continued consolidation of the Delta Connection, several aircraft transfers have begun, to be completed during 2020. As of June 2020, Delta Connection operates the following aircraft:
|Airline||IATA Service||ICAO Code||Callsign||Aircraft||In service||Orders||Passengers||Parent|
|Endeavor Air||9E||EDV||Endeavor||Bombardier CRJ-200||61||—||—||4||46||50||Delta Air Lines|
|Republic Airways||YX||RPA||Brickyard||Embraer E170||22||—||9||12||48||69||Republic Airways Holdings|
|SkyWest Airlines||OO||SKW||SkyWest||Bombardier CRJ-200||58||—||—||4||46||50||SkyWest, Inc.|
Due to scope clause limits, the Delta Connection fleet is currently limited to 450 aircraft. This includes 125 small regional jets (50 seats or less), and 325 large regional jets (51-76 seats). The large regional jets are divided between 102 airplanes with 51-70 seats, and 223 airplanes with 71-76 seats.
Delta Connection Academy is an airline flight school established in October 1989. The academy is located in Sanford, Florida on the grounds of the Orlando Sanford International Airport. It contains a fleet that has 73 aircraft and over 550 flight students who attended the academy. On January 13, 2010, it was acquired by Flight Training Acquisitions for $50 million.
Incidents and accidents
- January 15, 1987: SkyWest Airlines Flight 1834 a Fairchild Metro collided with a Mooney M20 transporting an instructor and a student, while on a flight between Pocatello to Salt Lake City in the vicinity of Kearns, Utah. All eight people on Flight 1834 and the two occupants of the Mooney were killed. The accident was found to be a navigation error of the student pilot aboard the Mooney.
- On February 1, 1991, SkyWest Flight 5569, a Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner, was waiting for takeoff clearance on a runway at LAX when USAir Flight 1493 collided with it. The ten passengers and two crew members onboard Flight 5569 were killed as well as twenty-three passengers and crew on USAir Flight 1493. The crash was blamed on the Air Traffic Controller who allowed the USAir plane to land on the same runway that the SkyWest flight was using.
- On April 5, 1991, Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 2311, an Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, crashed on approach to the Glynco Jetport serving Brunswick, GA. Twenty passengers and three crew members on board all died in the crash. The cause of the crash was an engine malfunction coupled with crew fatigue.
- On August 21, 1995, Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 529, an Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, crashed near Carrollton, Georgia. Officials determined that a propeller blade loss and inability to feather the remaining blades caused the accident, which killed 8 of the 28 passengers and crew on board.
- On January 9, 1997, Comair Flight 3272, an Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, crashed near Monroe, Michigan. The flight, which originated from Cincinnati, Ohio, was on approach to Detroit. All 29 passengers and crew were killed when the plane crashed 18 miles from the airport. The cause is listed to be the "FAA's failure to establish adequate aircraft certification standards for flight in icing conditions, the FAA's failure to ensure that an FAA/CTA-approved procedure for the accident airplane's deice system operation was implemented by U.S.-based air carriers, and the FAA's failure to require the establishment of adequate minimum airspeeds for icing conditions."
- On August 27, 2006, Comair Flight 5191, a Bombardier CRJ-100, crashed on takeoff at Lexington, Kentucky's Blue Grass Airport, with 47 passengers and three crew members on board. Only the First Officer survived. The pilots took off from the wrong runway, which was not long enough for the aircraft.
- On April 12, 2007, Northwest Airlink Flight 4712, a Bombardier CRJ200LR from Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport overran the runway when landing at Cherry Capital Airport (TVC), Traverse City, Michigan. The plane was damaged, but no one was injured. The NTSB determined that the cause of the accident was the "pilots’ decision to land at TVC without performing a landing distance assessment", which in turn was caused by fatigued pilots and unclear directions from the TVC controller tower. The report recommended more landing distance training, post-accident drug testing, and further criteria for runway closures in snow and ice conditions.
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- http://www.departedflights.com, March 1, 1987 Western Airlines system timetable & Western Express route map; April 3, 1988 SkyWest/Delta Connection route map
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- "Mesaba to close Eagan headquarters, cut 193 jobs". Inforum. 2011-10-22. Retrieved 2013-04-18.
- Risher, Wayne (October 24, 2011). "Pinnacle Airlines to move Mesaba headquarters to Memphis, cutting 200 jobs in Minnesota". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 2013-04-18.
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-  Archived 2010-12-17 at the Wayback Machine
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- "Delta Retools Its Regional Network -- and More Changes Are Coming". finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2019-09-05.
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...20 new Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft..." "...aircraft will have the ATMOSPHÈRE cabin with a 70-seat, dual-class configuration...
- "Are U.S. Airlines Approaching Their Next Scope Battles?". Pilot Job Central. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
- "New company acquires Delta Connection Academy, Aerosim". AOPA Foundation. January 23, 2010. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
- "ASN Aircraft accident Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II N163SW Kearns, UT". Aviation-safety.net. 1987-01-15. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-3B7 N388US Los Angeles International Airport, CA (LAX)". www.aviation-safety.net. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
- Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Swearingen SA227-AC Metro III N683AV Los Angeles International Airport, CA (LAX)". www.aviation-safety.net. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
- Aircraft Accident Report: Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Inc., Flight 2311, Uncontrolled Collision With Terrain, an Embraer EMB-120, N270AS, Brunswick, Georgia, April 5, 1991 (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. April 28, 1992. NTSB/AAR-92/03. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
- "Wounded Bird," Mayday
- Gary M. Pomerantz. "9 Minutes 20 Seconds". Archived from the original on August 6, 2007. Retrieved 2013-04-18.
- Under 49 CFR Part 830.2, a fatal injury is one that results in death within 30 days of the accident.
- "Heroic flight attendant returns to Georgia crash site," CNN
- "SR 407 - Robin Fech - honoring Archived 2012-08-06 at the Wayback Machine," Senate of Georgia
- "In-Flight Loss of Propeller Blade, Forced Landing, and Collision with Terrain, Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Inc., Flight 529, Embraer EMB-120RT, N256AS, Carrollton, Georgia, August 21, 1995" (PDF). August 21, 1995. Retrieved 2013-04-18.
- "Accident Description: Comair Flight 3272". Aviation-safety.net. January 9, 1997. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- Hauser, Christine; Urbina, Ian (August 27, 2006). "49 Killed in Airplane Crash in Kentucky". The New York Times. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
- "Accident Description: Northwest Airlink Flight 4712". Aviation-safety.net. April 12, 2007. Retrieved June 2, 2016.