Thursday, July 01, 2010
Delta Selling 2 Regional Carriers
[Photo -- Delta: What's the connection?]
Delta Air Lines today sold its Mesaba and Compass regional carriers to Pinnacle Airlines and Trans States Holdings Inc. to cut costs and, Delta said, to focus more on its mainline routes.
Both airlines will continue to operate under the name Delta Connection -- but the flights will no longer be operated by Delta itself.
Why should we care?
Well, consider the safety concerns that have been raised about regional airlines and the training and scheduling of pilots. A regional airline owned and operated by Delta is run with Delta standards. An independent regional-airline holding company has its own standards -- not necessarily poor ones, but different ones.
One of the big issues in regional carriers has been that customers often do not realize that they are boarding an airplane that is operated by a company other than the airline whose name is on the side.
An example is Continental Connection Flight 3407, which crashed on approach to Buffalo in early 2009, killing 50. The flight was actually operated by a sub-contractor, Colgan Air, which in turn is owned by Pinnacle Airlines.
After that crash, the National Transportation Safety Board raised serious questions about training, working conditions and pay of the two pilots whose mistakes on landing in rough weather caused the crash.