Comair

Robert Chapin
2012-10-08T00:21:20+00:00

This week, the topic is Comair, and the so-called regional airlines.  These businesses are sometimes difficult to identify because their operations are owned or at least re-branded by major airlines.  Comair flew for Delta Air Lines from 1984 until 2012.  They used hundreds of “regional jet” aircraft, with the Delta logo, to take passengers on short haul flights.

Originally, Comair was just a tiny operation based in Cincinnati with three little airplanes.  It started in 1977.  The company went public in 1981, and was bought out by Delta in 2001.  Delta went bankrupt in 2005 until 2007, putting enormous pressure on costs.  It was at that point Delta was forced to begin dismantling Comair.  The basic reason was that Comair had a successful business model for the short haul market of the 1980s, but it failed to adapt to changing conditions over time.

This move to shut down Comair doesn’t mean the regional airline market is going away any time soon.  SkyWest, another regional airline, is still in business and currently hiring pilots.  Some of their recent hires are showcased by ATP Flight School.  According to Airline Pilot Central the starting pay is $22.

7 Oct 2012

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7 Comments

  • Jason says:

    Hi Robert. Does SkyWest interest you the most? Which airline do you see yourself at in 1-2 years?

    • Robert Chapin says:

      I was excited to see one of my flight instructors get hired by American Eagle Airlines. Then there was the American Airlines bankruptcy. On the time scale of 1 to 2 years in the future, I can’t realistically predict who will be hiring. So I have it say it will depend on what the options are.

  • Prof Wall says:

    What were the “changing conditions” that Comair failed to respond to? I like how you say “so-called” regional airlines….you’re right, the scope of their regions is much larger than originally intended.

    • Robert Chapin says:

      I feel I can only speculate on which conditions ultimately led to the downfall of Comair. Some sources pointed to the “inefficiency” of regional jets, yet the regional jets are what gave Comair its competitive edge in the first place. Maybe they should have done more to offset rising fuel costs, but who knows if the same executives were even running the company after it was bought out by Delta? Maybe it was the buyout that caused the business to stagnate. Maybe the business model was burning the candle from both ends with no long term sustainability. All I can really distill out of the media coverage is that the subsidiary became unprofitable during the bankruptcy and Delta had to wind it down.

  • Justin Patrick says:

    Another HUGE downfall was Comair had the best pilot contract after they went on strike. They got paid way above the regional standard, to the point that guys wanted to retire from Comair as a career. This cost was way to much for delta flying 50 seat RJs. But it’s how the industry should be. Now we have scab airlines like gojet that people are willing to fly a crj700 for minimum wage to undercut the industry. Personally I think it’s an insult for a pilot to get anything less than 38,000 first year pay, Comair guys knew that and worked together to get it. May god bless those guys finding new jobs!

    • Robert Chapin says:

      It looks like that strike started within just a few months after the Delta buyout. I think there could be a whole separate debate about whether Delta’s ownership of Comair was ultimately for the best, or not? And yes, first year pay continues to be controversial. Our guest speaker this week spent a lot of time explaining the finer points of commuting to the east coast, scheduling, and “crash pads”. It was a good reality check.

      • Justin Patrick says:

        Haha yeah schedules and commuting both suck…. However you can make it work. I pay 170 dollars for a really nice crash pad 10 mins for Chicago’s O’Hare. And the commute is awesome because of the time change and only 45 min flight I could almost sit reserve from my apartment in Belleville (possibly have done it once) shhh haha 🙂 Pilots get creative because we HAVE TO!

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