Delta Air Lines is dumping ExpressJet, which operates 23 regional jets for the larger carrier, primarily out of Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Above, a Delta jet takes off at the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Airport last month.
Delta ends ExpressJet deal
It is the third contract carrier Delta is ending service with, including go! parent Mesa Air
ATLANTA » Delta Air Lines Inc.
, the third- largest U.S. carrier, is ending a regional flying agreement with ExpressJet Holdings Inc.
as major airlines trim their domestic operations.
ExpressJet operates 23 regional jets for the larger carrier, primarily out of Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, Atlanta-based Delta said yesterday in a statement. The companies said they mutually agreed to end the arrangement, effective Sept. 1.
ExpressJet becomes the third contract carrier Delta plans to end service with, and the only one to do so by mutual agreement. U.S. airlines are collectively cutting 20,000 jobs and parking 430 planes to shrink operations after jet-fuel prices doubled in the past year.
The Houston-based regional carrier is able to return some of its aircraft to lessors, so ending the Delta agreement is "in the best interest of our company," ExpressJet Chief Executive Officer Jim Ream said in the statement.
ExpressJet spokeswoman Kristy Nicholas didn't immediately return a phone call seeking additional comment. The carrier operates 274 regional jets, flying for Delta, Continental Airlines Inc. and under its own name.
Delta's plans to end similar regional flying contracts with two other carriers haven't been as amicable.
In April, Delta notified Mesa Air Group Inc.'s Freedom Airlines unit that it intended to terminate their agreement because Freedom wasn't performing to its standards. Last month, Delta said it would drop a similar contract with Pinnacle Airlines Corp. for the same reason.
Mesa in late May won a federal court order blocking Delta from canceling its contract, which the smaller carrier said was a "total surprise." Mesa CEO Jonathan Ornstein said on June 30 that the two companies are in talks to resolve the issue.
Pinnacle has disputed Delta's contentions, and said it was a victim of circumstances because of the larger airline's "unrealistic" operating schedule.
And in other news:
» Continental adds early retirement plan. Continental Airlines is offering some workers early retirement as it prepares to cut 3,000 jobs to help offset record fuel costs. The retirement program is in addition to a buyout package and leaves of absence the carrier already is offering to encourage workers to resign voluntarily, spokeswoman Julie King said yesterday. The carrier's "enhanced retirement window" includes a cash incentive for workers eligible for retirement. The amount of money varies by work group and will be paid out over 24 months, King said.
» Alaska Air traffic declined 2% in June. Alaska Air Group Inc. said yesterday that June passenger traffic for subsidiary Alaska Airlines decreased 2 percent to 1.7 billion revenue passenger miles, or one paying passenger transported one mile, from 1.7 billion a year earlier. Capacity was 2.1 billion available seat miles, or one seat transported one mile, 0.2 percent higher than 2.1 billion in June 2007. Alaska started flights to Hawaii late last year from Seattle and Anchorage. The passenger load factor, or the percentage of available seats occupied by fare-paying passengers, was 79.5 percent, compared to 81.3 percent in June 2007. The airline carried 1.5 million passengers, compared to 1.6 million a year earlier.
» Airlines no longer taking cash onboard. Don't bother hitting the ATM before boarding your flight -- your airline may no longer be accepting cash. Starting Aug. 5, Alaska Airlines will become the latest carrier to go cashless for in-flight purchases. Others that have gone cashless include Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, AirTran, Virgin American and Midwest Airlines. Northwest Airlines still accepts cash only for purchases on domestic flights. Delta and American airlines accept cash and credit cards, representatives said.
Star-Bulletin staff and news services