July 27, 2012, 10:07 a.m. EDT
Delta Air Lines Inc. DAL announced plans Friday to close its Comair Inc.
commuter unit, the latest in a series of sweeping changes to the U.S.
regional-airline sector as carriers dump smaller, fuel-thirsty jets.
Cincinnati's Comair flies 44 regional jets and employs 1,700 staff, and had
been shrunk in half over the past two years after Delta failed to find a buyer
following the sale of its Mesaba and Compass commuter units.
Delta is cutting its fleet of 50-seat regional jets from around 350 to 125
over the next few years, replacing them with larger, more efficient planes after
securing a new pilot contract that provided more flexibility to switch flying
between different aircraft types.
The airline said the Sept. 29 closure of Comair won't have a significant
effect on its network. The unit accounts for around 1% of Delta's total flying,
while its broader regional business generates almost 20% of the airline's total