The amazing shrinking airline business

Back when the Northwest-Delta merger was announced, a lot of the questions being posted on News Cut were from pilots of the regional carriers involved — Mesaba, Pinnacle, and Comair.

A few years later, it’s becoming clear: More business for the regional airlines.

The blog Things in the Sky has noticed that some of Mesaba’s jets have been moved to Atlanta. Some former Northwest and Delta routes are being flown by the regional carriers now (the planes are all gussied up to look like Delta , but they’re not Delta.

Many of the flights from Minneapolis St. Paul to the Northeast are also now being flown by regional carries, using smaller jets.

But it’s still not a great time to be an airline pilot (or any other airline employee) whether you’re flying for a legacy carrier, a regional, or a no-frills airline, according to the Department of Transportation. The agency reports a 5.9% decline in employment at the airlines. The number jumps to 6.9% at regional carriers.

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