Delta Air Lines and its regional jet pilot union announced that a vote had approved a new contact on June 30th, 2012 which will mean changes to the airline’s regional jet fleet going into the future.
The contract will allow Delta to add more, larger, regional jets and remove smaller 50-seat regional jets which are flown by smaller airlines under the Delta Connection banner and colour scheme. The changes in the regional jet fleet are expected to occur over the next several years as leases on aircraft expire or aircraft approach major checks. In the latter case, removing these aircraft from the fleet would also provide a maintenance savings to Delta as well.
In short, the agreed to contact provides that:
- Number of 50-seat regional jets is capped at 125, reduced from a current fleet of 343.
- Add 70 more regional jets to the aircraft fleet with 70 or 76 seats.
- Delta will lease 88 former AirTran Boeing 717s from Southwest Airlines, to begin entering the fleet in 2013.
These changes will mean that Canadair Regional Jet 100s and 440s will be withdrawn from the fleet beginning a process by which, eventually, there is likely to be no 50-seat regional jet aircraft operated by Delta Connection. A small number of ERJs are also operated under the Delta Connection banner and are expected to be removed entirely from the fleet within a short period of time.
The airline pilot’s union estimated that the number of seats flown by regional carriers for Delta will drop 15.6 percent over the lifetime of the contract as flying shifts from the regional carriers to Delta mainline service. The union also indicated that the contract was approved by 62 percent of those who voted.