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Delta Connection

Delta Connection
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Frequent-flyer program SkyMiles
Airport lounge Delta Sky Club
Alliance SkyTeam
Fleet size 452

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.


  • History 1
    • Merging Delta Connection and Northwest Airlink 1.1
  • Operators & Fleet 2
  • Destinations 3
  • Academy 4
  • Incidents and accidents 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


A Delta Connection Bombardier CRJ-701, operated by SkyWest, landing at Vancouver
A Delta Connection CRJ-100, operated by Comair, landing at Baltimore

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 code share service flying as Western Express for Western, became a Delta Connection carrier in 1987.[2] 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 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 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 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 on September 1, 2010. On December 21, 2006, it was 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.[3] 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.

Merging Delta Connection and Northwest Airlink

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.[4][5] The same day, Trans States Holdings purchased Compass Airlines for $20.5 million USD.[6] It has maintained both regional operations with the airlines as of January 1, 2012.

Delta announced that it will add in-flight WiFi to 223 Delta Connection aircraft beginning in 2011.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9]

On July 25, 2012, Delta announced that its wholly owned subsidiary Comair would cease all operations at midnight on September 28, 2012.

On May 1, 2013, as a condition of exiting bankruptcy, Pinnacle Airlines became a subsidiary of Delta and was subsequently renamed Endeavor Air.[10]

On December 31, 2014 Chautauqua operated its last flight for Delta Connection. All aircraft and crew & maintenance bases will be absorbed by the Shuttle America certificate.[11]

Operators & Fleet

Delta Connection Bombardier CRJ-200 operated by ExpressJet
Delta Connection Embraer 175 operated by Compass Airlines
Delta Connection Bombardier CRJ-100 operated by Comair
Delta Connection Embraer 175 operated by Shuttle America
Delta Connection Bombardier CRJ-200 operated by SkyWest Airlines



Delta Connection Academy is an airline flight school, formerly wholly owned by Delta Air Lines, Inc. until its sale in 2009.[13] The academy is located in Sanford, Florida on the grounds of the Orlando Sanford International Airport. The school serves all the Delta Connection carriers above, and has been known to train pilots for over 30 other airlines in the world. The school currently issues more FAA certificates than any other Part 141 school in the country. [13]

Incidents and accidents

  • On February 1, 1991, SkyWest Flight 5569, an Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner, was waiting for takeoff clearance on a runway at Los Angeles International Airport when USAir Flight 1493 collided with it. The ten passengers and two crew members onboard Flight 5569 were killed as well as twenty-two 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 August 21, 1995, [20][19][18][17][16][15]
  • 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."[21]
  • Flight 4712 was a Bombardier CRJ200LR from Minneapolis that 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.


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ March 1, 1987 Western Airlines system timetable & Western Express route map; April 3, 1988 SkyWest/Delta Connection route map
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Wounded Bird," Mayday
  16. ^
  17. ^ Under 49 CFR Part 830.2, a fatal injury is one which results in death within 30 days of the accident.[2]
  18. ^ "Heroic flight attendant returns to Georgia crash site," CNN
  19. ^ "SR 407 - Robin Fech - honoring," Senate of Georgia
  20. ^
  21. ^

External links

  • Delta Connection
  • Northwest Airlines site
  • Pinnacle Airlines site
  • Mesaba Aviation site
  • Compass Airlines site
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