The Importance of US Regional Airline Service Connections

A critical portion of the air traffic system in the U.S. requires the maintaining of regional airline service connections.

Regional airline service is literally the lifeblood of small-town America. These airlines enable reaching far-out communities. Yet they are often the first to go belly up when a pandemic or an economic downturn sets in.

The airlines and the communities the regional airlines serve have already taken a massive hit, which will last well beyond the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

An appeal for survival

importance of us regional airline service, Embraer145XR at Hobbs NM
Embraer145XR at Lea County Regional Airport (HOB) in Hobbs, New Mexico. Hardstand airplane parking only. Photo: Capt. Dan.

Regional airlines received government aid through the coronavirus CARES-Act, as the major airlines did.

The payroll support program was immediately honored. However, accessing the direct lending program was complicated.

As a result, on August 3, 2020, the Regional Airline Association (RAA) teamed up with other aviation organizations by sending an appeal for help with access to U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.

You can read the letter here.

Regional Airlines that became victims of COVID-19

The sudden bankruptcy and liquidation of several U.S. regional carriers marked the early days of the COVID-19 airline crisis. That quickly sped up a depressing economic outlook for many communities by the discontinuation of its regional airline service.

United Express ExpressJet Embraer 145 cabin
A United Express Embraer 145 cabin. Photo: Capt. Dan.

Trans State Airlines

Trans State Airlines, a United Airlines feeder operating under the United Express brand, ceased operations on April 1, 2020.

Compass Airlines

Delta Air Lines-feeder Compass Airlines seized operations on April 5, 2020. Compass Airlines was in business for only 14 years. During that time the airline operated more than 1.5 million flights with 62 airplanes and 2,000 employees.


Alaska’s regional airline RavnAir filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on April 5, 2020, seizing operation and laying off all its employees. RavnAir (pronounced like the bird “raven”) specialized in the small communities of the vast State of Alaska. The Anchorage-based airline had a partnership with Alaska Airlines.


A satisfied’s passenger’s experience on United Express on a flight from Houston (IAH) to Huntsville (HSV). YouTube.

The next U.S. regional airline service to bite the dust was ExpressJet. United Airlines ended its contract with ExpressJet in July. ExpressJet operated under the United Express brand.

Following the decision to discontinue its ExpressJet operation United will be consolidating its Embraer ERJ-145 flying with CommutAir.

The importance of US regional airline service

Hobbs NM terminal and tower
HOB Lea County Regional Airport (Hobbs NM) terminal and tower. Photo: Capt. Dan.

Regional airline service provides 41% of all scheduled passenger flights in the U.S. serving almost two-thirds of the nation’s airports.

Airports served exclusively by regional airlines brought $134 billion into the U.S. economy in 2019, creating one million jobs. As a result, about $36 billion in wages and tax revenues were generated for local communities.

Source: RAA.

Questions or comments? You can contact us here.

Featured Image: Monroe Regional Airport (MLU), Louisiana. Photo: Capt. Dan.

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