Roster of Delta Connection carriers to shrink

Delta Air Lines will soon shrink its cast of Delta Connection regional carrier partners from five to three.

Atlanta-based Delta has been cutting back on its regional carrier contracts over the years, and now plans to work with only SkyWest Airlines, Republic Airways and Delta subsidiary Endeavor Air. Those regional airlines will continue flying Delta Connection flights on regional jets.

It plans to wind down the Delta Connection flying of two other carriers, GoJet and Compass, over the next 11 months.

In turn, Endeavor, Republic and SkyWest are expanding their Delta Connection operations.

Delta said the shift will result in “no significant changes” to its overall network and destinations, and that passengers can continue to book flights as usual.

Delta has reduced the share of regional carrier flights over the years as it shifts from smaller, less-comfortable regional jets to more flights on mainline jets like the Boeing 717 and more recently the Airbus A220.

And Delta said in a written statement that its reduction in the number of regional carriers now is “an effort to reduce operational complexity and create better consistency with the overall product and experience for customers,” and that the carriers will focus on regions of the country.

An Atlanta-based regional airline and longtime Delta Connection carrier, ExpressJet -- formerly known as Atlantic Southeast Airlines or ASA -- stopped flying for Delta last year.

In Atlanta, Delta operates 73.5 percent of the flights at the world's busiest airport with its own fleet of planes. The largest Delta Connection carrier in Atlanta is now Endeavor Air, which operates about 4 percent of flights at the Atlanta airport. SkyWest, which flies for Delta, United, American and Alaska, operates about 2.5 percent of flights. Republic operates less than 1 percent of flights. GoJet and Compass don't operate in Atlanta, according to the latest operational statistics.