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Comair Logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
FoundedApril 1, 1977
Ceased operationsSeptember 29, 2012
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer programSkyMiles
Parent companyDelta Air Lines, Inc.
HeadquartersCincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
Boone Co, KY, U.S.
Key peopleRyan Gumm (former president)
Former Comair logo

Comair was a wholly owned subsidiary airline of Delta Air Lines, headquartered on the grounds of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Boone County, Kentucky, United States, west of Erlanger, and south of Cincinnati. Operating under the brand name Delta Connection, Comair operated passenger services to destinations in the USA, Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas.[1]

Comair and Delta Air Lines announced on July 27, 2012, that Comair would cease operations on September 29, 2012.


Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante turboprop airliner wearing Comair titles when operating a commuter schedule to Cleveland Hopkins Airport in 1982

The airline was established in March 1977, and started operations in April 1977. Patrick J. Sowers, Robert T. Tranter, David Mueller and his father Raymond founded the airline in Cincinnati. At the end of its first year of highly profitable operations, two of the company founders, Sowers and Tranter, abruptly resigned the day following the first annual meeting as a "demand for immediate change" after they had uncovered repeated unacceptable and unsafe operational practices by one of the other partners. Comair suffered a fatal crash the year following their departure. Comair began scheduled services to Akron/Canton, Cleveland, and Evansville with two Piper Navajo aircraft. Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante twin-engine turboprop commuter aircraft were added to Comair's fleet in 1982.

Under its parent Comair Holdings, it became a public company in July 1981 to support the growth and capital requirements to upgrade its fleet.[clarification needed] In 1984, Comair became a Delta Connection carrier with Delta Air Lines' establishment of a hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). That same year, Comair introduced its first international flights from Cincinnati to Toronto. Turboprop aircraft operated by Comair on Delta Connection code sharing flights serving the Cincinnati hub included the Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante, Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia, Saab 340, Short 330 and Swearingen Metro.[2]

In July 1986 Delta Air Lines acquired 20% of Comair stock. The airline began operating a second hub at Orlando International Airport (MCO) during the late 1980s in support of the Delta hub at the airport.[3] In 1992, Comair moved into Concourse C at CVG, as Delta Air Lines gradually continued to acquire more of the airlines stock. In 1993, Comair was the launch customer for the Canadair Regional Jet CRJ100 and would later operate the largest fleet in the world of this twin jet type. By 1999, Comair was the largest regional airline in the country worth over 2 billion, transporting 6 million passengers yearly to 83 destinations on 101 aircraft.[4] That same year, in addition to shorter range flights from its Cincinnati and Orlando hubs, Comair as the Delta Connection was operating nonstop flights between Cincinnati and Nassau, Bahamas, nonstop between Cincinnati and Colorado Springs, nonstop between Boston and Myrtle Beach, nonstop between Boston and Montreal, and also nonstop between Tulsa and Las Vegas with the latter being the westernmost destination ever served by the airline.[5] Delta Air Lines acquired full ownership on October 22, 1999[1] at a cost of over $2 billion.

Comair CRJ100ER with new livery at Boston Logan International Airport

Pilot's strike[edit]

On March 26, 2001, Comair's pilots went on strike. The strike cancelled the airline's flights and grounded its fleet. The strike ended 89 days later when a new contract was agreed to. However, there were seeds sown of a bitter animosity between the Delta pilot group and Comair. During the labor dispute in early 2001, there were some Delta pilots who contributed financially to the strike funds of Comair pilots. Like many legacy carriers, Delta furloughed a number of pilots after the September 11 attacks in 2001. While waiting to be recalled, some Delta pilots were able to find work at some of the regionals such as Atlantic Southeast Airlines, who were not hit nearly as hard as the major airlines. However, a furloughed Delta pilot could only be hired at Comair if he/she resigns his/her seniority number with Delta Air Lines and thus, there were very few furloughed Delta pilots who went to Comair. This would intensify a rift between both parties.[6]

Comair came to nationwide attention during winter 2004 when it canceled all of its flights on Saturday, December 25 and Sunday, December 26, stranding 30,000 people. The reason was a combination of record snow and a crew scheduling software flaw. On December 23 and 24, a record snowfall hit the Cincinnati area, forcing the airline to deplete its entire supply of deicing solution. With the area highways closed due to the blizzard, no additional deicing fluid could be delivered to the airport, and Comair was forced to cancel all flights beginning on Friday December 24. After receiving necessary supplies overnight, the airline began the process of startup when the computer system that handled flight crew assignments shut down. It had been designed with a hard coded limit of changes for a month, which were far exceeded due to the poor weather in the prior days. The software had been in the process of being phased out at the airline in favor of a new system with more capabilities.

Comair's parent company Delta Air Lines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September 14, 2005, bringing Comair into bankruptcy along with it.[7] Comair announced that would cut costs by million dollars annually.[clarification needed] These savings were achieved by aircraft, flight, and employee reductions.[citation needed]

In late 2006, Comair opened an additional crew base and hub at New York City's JFK Airport. Comair had the lowest percentage of on-time flights of all major U.S. carriers during late 2006. This was the result of starting operations at JFK, a congested airport with poor staffing and an unfortunate terminal and aircraft ramp layout that severely dropped Comair's ratings in the DOT listings. In 2008, Comair tied with American for the lowest on-time performance, with 70% of its flights arriving on-time.[8][9]

During the course of 2007, Comair closed down its crew bases in Greensboro, North Carolina and Orlando, Florida.

On May 25, 2007, Delta announced that Comair would operate 14 stretched CRJ900 aircraft for Delta Connection. These aircraft were to replace 14 smaller CRJ100 aircraft in Comair's fleet.[citation needed] Parent company Delta Air Lines replaced Comair's service in these destinations with Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a subsidiary of SkyWest, Inc., and Chautauqua Airlines, a subsidiary of Republic Airways Holdings. In early 2008, Delta announced it was going to reduce its domestic capacity by 4-5%, in which Comair would reduce its 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet fleet by 8-14 aircraft. In March 2008, when the price of oil rose, Delta announced it would further reduce domestic capacity.

On February 10, 2009, Delta Connection announced that ground handling and gate service positions for Comair, Mesaba Airlines, and Compass Airlines would be transitioned to a new Delta Air Lines subsidiary. The interim name of the new company was Regional Handling Services until a new name was confirmed before September. Each airline maintained its own flying operations. Services including ticketing and baggage handling were to be handled by RHS beginning in the 3rd Quarter of 2009. There was to be a reduction in the workforce. The largest cut was to come from Comair which was to reduce its staffing by nearly half. A voluntary termination was introduced and involuntary cuts were possible later in the year as Delta mainline ground employees took over positions of Delta subsidiary ground employees that had been contracted to Comair and then Regional Elite Airline Services.[10] [needs update]

On September 1, 2010 Comair announced that it would reduce its fleet by eliminating all of its aging Bombardier CRJ100/200 aircraft, expecting to have retired them all sometime in 2012. Retirement would start in 2011. Also, it expected to operate a fleet of 44 aircraft, and planned to reduce its workforce. Layoffs were to begin after September 2010, furloughing the pilot group to around 500 pilots (down to a 1999 date of hire). The company's fleet was to consist of only CRJ700 and CRJ900 aircraft.[11]

In July 2012, Delta announced that it would be shutting down Comair. The last Comair flight flew from Jacksonville International Airport to Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport on 29 September 2012, ending more than three decades of operation.[12]


Comair operated passenger services to 83 destinations in the USA, Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas at its peak in 2005.[1]


Before its downsizing, Comair operated the largest number of Bombardier (formerly Canadair) regional jets of any airline[citation needed] with over 170 planes. At the time of closure, the Comair fleet consisted of just seven aircraft with an average age of 11.1 years, all of which were operated on Delta Connection services:[13]

Comair fleet
Aircraft In Service Passengers Notes
F Y Total
Bombardier CRJ100ER 2 0 50 50 Retired
Bombardier CRJ700ER 2 9 56 65 Transferred to GoJet Airlines
Bombardier CRJ900ER 3 12 64 76 Transferred to SkyWest Airlines
Total 7

Historical Regional Jet Fleet[edit]

Comair fleet in 2005
Aircraft In Service Passengers Notes
F Y Total
Bombardier CRJ100ER 63 0 50 50
Bombardier CRJ100LR 37 0 50 50
Bombardier CRJ200ER 37 0 50 50
Bombardier CRJ700LR 27 9 56 65
Total 163

Historical Prop and Turboprop Fleet[edit]


77 Comair Boulevard, former headquarters

Comair was headquartered in the Comair General Office Building[14] on the grounds of Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport in unincorporated Boone County, Kentucky, United States,[15] west of Erlanger,[16] and south of Cincinnati, Ohio.[17] As the airline ended operations, up to 30 employees were to remain working at the headquarters.[18]

77 Comair Boulevard formerly served as the corporate headquarters of Comair.[19] The building is on South Airfield Road.[20] In 2010, after the airline began downsizing, it considered leaving the building and moving to another location near the airport. A spokesperson did not disclose how much office space the airline occupied; she said it was planning to reduce its space by 20 to 25 percent.[21] In early 2011, Comair vacated the building.[20] Amazon Air began leasing space in the building in 2018.[22]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 2007-04-03. p. 67.
  2. ^, Feb. 15, 1985 & Dec. 15, 1989 editions, Official Airline Guide (OAG), Cincinnati flight schedules
  3. ^, June 6, 1989 - Nov. 1, 1999 Comair route maps
  4. ^ "Nonstop Performance Since 1977". Departed Flights. Comair. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  5. ^, Nov. 1, 1999 Comair route map
  6. ^ forum 07-19-2012 RUMOR: Comair to cease operations October 1.
  7. ^ "Comer Chapter 11 Petition" (PDF). PacerMonitor. PacerMonitor. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Air Travel Consumer Report" (PDF). United States Department of Transportation. February 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-02-18. Retrieved 2013-04-14.
  9. ^ Mutzabaugh, Ben. "Which flights are always late? Delta partners, NYC airports top the list". USA Today. Archived from the original on January 6, 2007. Retrieved January 4, 2007.
  10. ^ "Delta to reduce services at Cincinnati and drop 840 employees - Aviation News". 2010-03-19. Archived from the original on 2013-04-21. Retrieved 2013-04-14.
  11. ^ "Comair to shrink fleet, staffing - Business Courier". September 1, 2010. Retrieved 2013-04-14.
  12. ^ "Comair's last flight to land in Minneapolis".
  13. ^ "Delta Air Lines - Airline Tickets and Airfare to Worldwide Destinations". Retrieved 2013-04-14.
  14. ^ "Recruiting Events: Archived 2012-03-14 at the Wayback Machine" Comair. Retrieved on July 30, 2012. "Most career events are conducted at the Comair General Office Building (82 Comair Boulevard, Erlanger, Ky.) [...]" - Archive
  15. ^ "Career Area." () Comair. Retrieved on July 30, 2012. "Via mail: Comair, Inc. 82 Comair Blvd. Erlanger, KY 41018 Attention: Employment"
  16. ^ "Comair reinstates safety program." Business First of Louisville. Friday May 15, 2009. Retrieved on May 19, 2009.
  17. ^ Pilcher, James. "Delta looks to shed CVG buildlings." The Cincinnati Enquirer. Thursday August 5, 2010. Retrieved on August 9, 2010.
  18. ^ Monk, Dan. "Delta wants to negotiate Comair separation terms 'as quickly as possible'." Business Courier. Friday July 27, 2012. Retrieved on July 30, 2012.
  19. ^ "CVG board approves lease deal for Southern Air." Business Courier. Tuesday July 17, 2012. Retrieved on July 30, 2012.
  20. ^ a b Monk, Dan. "Cincinnati could land Southern Air." Business Courier. Friday March 30, 2012. 2 of 3. Retrieved on July 30, 2012.
  21. ^ "Comair to shrink fleet, staffing." Business Courier. Wednesday September 1, 2010. 2 of 2. Retrieved on July 30, 2012.
  22. ^ Engel, Liz (October 5, 2017). "Amazon latest: Company will lease office space at CVG". WCPO-TV. Cincinnati, Ohio: E. W. Scripps Company. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  23. ^ "NTSB report AAR-80-8" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. October 8, 1979. Archived from the original on October 4, 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-14.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  24. ^ NTSB brief DCA80AA002 Archived January 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^
  26. ^ "NTSB/AAR-07/05" NTSB. Retrieved 27 August 2016.

External links[edit]