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.
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 on April 1, 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. Atlantic Coast Airlines operated over 30 FairChild Dornier Do328JET aircraft as part of its Delta Connection service from 2000 until 2005.
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, ending all flights on August 31, 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.
In September 2020, Delta announced through their SEC Filing the plan to consider retire all Delta-owned Bombardier CRJ-200 aircraft by December 2023 transitioning the airline's regional fleet plan to All E175 and CRJ9.
As of March 2021, Delta Connection operates the following aircraft:
|Airline||IATA Service||ICAO Code||Callsign||Aircraft||In service||Orders||Passengers||ref||Parent|
|Endeavor Air||9E||EDV||Endeavor||Bombardier CRJ-200||45||7||—||4||46||50||Delta Air Lines|
|Republic Airways||YX||RPA||Brickyard||Embraer E170||18||(18)||9||12||48||69||||Republic Airways Holdings|
|SkyWest Airlines||OO||SKW||SkyWest||Bombardier CRJ-200||12||—||4||46||50||||SkyWest, Inc.|
Due to scope clause limits, the Delta Connection fleet is currently limited to 415 aircraft. This includes 125 small regional jets (50 seats or less), and 290 large regional jets (51-76 seats). The large regional jets are divided between 102 airplanes with 51-70 seats, and 188 airplanes with 71-76 seats.
All current aircraft orders reflect aircraft in storage due to scope limitations, with the exception of the Endeavor Air CRJ-200 which are being brought on as transfers.
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.
...20 new Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft..." "...aircraft will have the ATMOSPHÈRE cabin with a 70-seat, dual-class configuration...