Weekend marks Comair's final flight

ATLANTA — The death of Delta Air Lines' partner Comair was a result of high fuel costs that made its 50-seat regional jets too expensive to fly and high labor costs that made it difficult to compete with other small carriers, aviation observers said.

The weekend brought the final flight for Kentucky-based Comair, a subsidiary of Delta that flew under the Delta Connection brand.

Comair's last flight also marked the end for an industry pioneer that helped spearhead the introduction of the 50-seat regional jets that replaced most turboprops in the 1990s, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Delta says it expects no service disruptions or schedule changes, because other Delta Connection regional carriers are taking over flights.

Lexington's Blue Grass Airport has seen no impact as other regional carriers have picked up Comair's flights, said spokeswoman Louise Bowden.

Erlanger-based Comair's 1,700 employees will be laid off.

"We're just disappointed to see our airline shut down," said Comair pilot and union spokesman Allen Cook. "No one wanted to leave under these conditions."

Comair's 16 50-seat regional jets will be retired, while the rest of its jets are being leased to other Delta Connection carriers.

Comair was once a regional powerhouse with nearly 800 flights a day to about 100 cities. By this year, that had shrunk to 235 flights a day to 73 cities, with a major presence in Cincinnati, as well as New York.