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Delta's Comair announces major downsizing

posted Dec 28, 2010, 10:21 PM by Rowan Hewitt

By Aaron Karp | September 2, 2010  

Comair CRJ 700. Photo: Courtesy, Comair.

Delta Air Lines regional subsidiary Comair said Wednesday it will retire 49 50-seat CRJs by the end of 2012 and also "realign our staffing over the next two years to support the new, smaller size of the airline."

The Cincinnati-based carrier, which is DL's only wholly owned regional subsidiary following the sales this summer of Mesaba and Compass Airlines (ATW Daily News, July 2), said it will operate a fleet of 44 aircraft by the end of 2012, fewer than half of its current fleet of 93. It will retire 19 CRJ100/200 aircraft in 2011 and another 30 in 2012, leaving it with just 16 50-seat jets. It will retain its 15 CRJ700s and 13 CRJ900s.

In a memo to employees, President John Bendoraitis did not specify how many of Comair's approximately 2,500 workers would be laid off or accept voluntary redundancy. "All departments and areas will be impacted, with the number of reductions varying by department," he wrote. "By the end of 2012, staffing will be commensurate with what is needed to run a 44-aircraft operation."

Explaining the downsizing, he said, "Our need to change is significant, and the scope of change will be difficult but necessary. Our current cost structure…remains approximately 20% higher than our peers on a cost-per-block-hour basis [and] does not enable us to be competitive in the current industry environment."

He said the carrier will soon begin negotiations with the three unions representing its workers: the Air Line Pilots Assn., International Assn. of Machinists and International Brotherhood of Teamsters. "Securing new, competitive agreements with these groups is critical to our success," Bendoraitis stated.