Sometimes an airline shutting down is a good thing

Delta announced today that they will be shuttering their Cincinnati-based subsidiary Comair in roughly 60 days; the last flights operated by the carrier will operate on 29 July September 2012. The move comes as Delta seeks to cut the number of 50-seat aircraft in their network by roughly 70% in the next year. Comair currently operates 16 of those aircraft for Delta and they are being removed from service on the 29th. At that point the carrier will have only 28 other aircraft in service which is apparently insufficient for the company to justify continued operations.

It is not entirely clear where those 28 aircraft will be going, though the safe bet is that one of the other regional carriers affiliated with Delta will pick them up so as to keep the capacity in the network. For the employees of Comair the future is rather less certain. Even those currently flying the larger aircraft which are being kept in service will likely face some challenges as they try to follow the aircraft to the new operator. And the employees flying the smaller planes or working in the back office are likely out of a job.

So, why am I suggesting that this is a good thing? Well, for passengers it is. These smaller planes are less comfortable for passengers. They are also generally the first to be cut any time weather or other ATC issues crop up, meaning they are less reliable. They are being replaced with larger jets which should be more comfortable and reliable for passengers.

This is bad for the employees and bad for Cincinnati. But it is good for most everyone else.

Oh, and about a month ago I was questioning the future of Pinnacle, another Delta regional operator. It seems that, at least for now, the answer is no. And if those 28 planes end up flying for Pinnacle then that’s actually a pretty good thing for them and their chances of continued operations.

Additional coverage on the closure can be found here:

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Disagree. All giant corporations like to target only the most dense markets, and churn the most profit per quarter. They have no interest at all in servicing smaller markets, so the collapsing hubs means worse service. A few players inevitably means cartels instead of real competition. Oh sure we USED to have direct flights to X, but now you need to connect through ATL for it, SORRY CHARLIE!

    1. There may be some markets which see reduced service, Vincent, but those are generally smaller or marginal markets anyways. And it isn’t like there are tons of cities with CR2s serving lots of point-to-point markets outside of hubs. Comair was already carrying less than 1% of Delta’s traffic. This isn’t going to make a significant change in the coverage.

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