Saturday, July 21, 2012

Comair exit not on fliers' radar

As Comair’s 1,000 local employees wait to receive word on the airline’s future, travelers most likely would not notice if the company stops operating at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, aviation experts say. 

“It will be business as usual,” said Jay Ratliff, local aviation expert and former general manager at Northwest Airlines.

Delta Air Lines, which is exploring strategic alternatives for Erlanger-based Comair, is expected to announce its next steps by the end of July. If Comair’s operations cease, the company would have to notify employees 60 days prior to being shut down.

Delta would be left to contract Comair’s flights among its eight feeder airline partners that operate under the Delta Connection brand. Aviation experts say they expect most, if not all, of Comair’s flights from CVG to be contracted to another Delta Connection partner.

As of last month, Comair operated 42 daily flights out of CVG, down from 56 in June 2011.

It is possible the number of flights out of CVG could dip slightly if Comair is shut down, but not enough to cause travelers concern, Ratliff said. If that does happen, 76-seat jets could replace some of Comair’s 50-seaters to balance out capacity.

“I don’t think it will impact CVG,” said Daniel Friedenzohn, associate professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. “I don’t see them adding capacity at CVG, but I don’t see it necessarily going down.”

Comair’s presence has been declining for several years, and employees received a memo from president Ryan Gumm on July 13 that indicated the company would know its future by the end of July.

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