These Are America’s 10 Largest Regional Airlines

May 4, 2019

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Quick: Can you name 10 regional airlines?

The major domestic airlines are all household names (Delta, American, United, etc.), but only the most hard-core aviation fanatics can shout out the regional airlines. Yet, these are the carriers that the big airlines rely on to ferry passengers to and from areas that are too small and/or too unprofitable to service with large jets.

These regional partners — which are sometimes, but not always, independently owned — fly under the major carrier’s brand name. United’s regional partners fly as United Express, Delta’s as Delta Connection, and American’s as American Eagle. All told, more than half of the domestic flights in the US are on these small airlines (and some of them have better on-time stats than the big guys).

“Some of these carriers are actually quite large,” aviation industry expert Bob Mann tells The Points Guy. He notes that a billion dollars in revenue used to be the dividing line between the major carriers and the little guys. Now, some regional airlines easily rake in that much. “They truly are very large operators,” Mann says.

TPG looks at the 10 largest regional airlines (based on 2018 Department of Transportation data).

SkyWest Airlines

2018 Enplaned Passengers: 37.42 million
Fleet: 475 aircraft (includes Embraer E175s and E175 SCs; Bombardier CRJ200s, CRJ700s and CRJ900s)
Airline Partners: Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines
Cities Served: 257 (45 states, Washington DC, 6 Canadian Provinces, 3 Mexican Cities and the Bahamas)
Headquarters: St. George, Utah

Fun Facts: SkyWest has come a long way from its humble beginnings. It was founded in 1972 with a fleet of 2-, 4- and 6-seat Piper aircraft that took passengers between Cedar City, Utah and Salt Lake City for $25. Now, SkyWest is the largest regional airline in the United States. The more than 37 million passengers it carried in 2018 place SkyWest firmly above several well-known “large” airlines, including JetBlue, Alaska, Spirit and Hawaiian Airlines.

Republic Airways

Photo By Ken Iwelumo
Photo By Ken Iwelumo

2018 Enplaned Passengers:
17.59 million
Fleet: About 190 Embraer 170/175 aircraft
Airline Partners: Delta, United, American
Cities Served: 100 cities in 40 US states, Canada, the Caribbean and Central America
Headquarters: Indianapolis, Indiana

Fun Facts: Republic traces its roots to 1973 when it was founded as Chautauqua Airlines. Also, Republic was involved with the infamous #Bumpgate incident of 2017: It was operating the United Express flight on which a passenger, Dr. David Dao, was dragged off the plane after refusing to yield his seat to an airline employee.

PSA Airlines

Photo by Eric Salard / Flickr
Photo by Eric Salard / Flickr

2018 Enplaned Passengers:
13.43 million
Fleet: 150 aircraft, including Bombardier CRJ200s, CRJ700s and CRJ900s (the airline says additional orders will bring its fleet count to 150)
Airline Partners: Wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines
Cities Served: Nearly 100 destinations across the East Coast and Midwest and as far west as San Antonio, Texas
Headquarters: Dayton, Ohio

Fun Facts: Like many airlines, PSA has gone through numerous name changes, mergers and acquisitions since its founding in 1979 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania (original name: Vee Neal Airlines). Under the name of Jetstream International Airlines, it became a subsidiary of US Air in the late 1980s. US Air changed Jetstream’s name to PSA in 1995. PSA became part of American’s family during the American-US Air merger of 2013.

Mesa Airlines

Photo by Ibagli / Wikipedia
Photo by Ibagli / Wikipedia

2018 Enplaned Passengers:
12.87 million
Fleet: 145 aircraft (includes Bombardier CRJ700s, CRJ900s and CRJ200s; Embraer E175s)
Airline Partners: United and American
Cities Served: 129 cities in 41 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and the Bahamas

Fun Facts: A New Mexico husband and wife founded Mesa Airlines near an actual mesa in 1982. Since then, the airline has formed longtime relationships with the larger airlines. They’ve been partnering with United and American since 1992.

Endeavor Air

Photo From Endeavor
Photo From Endeavor

2018 Enplaned Passengers:
12.83 million
Fleet: 154 (includes Bombardier CRJ900s, CRJ700s and CRJ200s)
Airline Partners: Wholly owned subsidiary of Delta
Cities Served: 149 cities in the United States, Canada, and the Bahamas
Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Fun Facts: Formerly Pinnacle Airlines, the carrier completed a painful bankruptcy with a new name (Endeavor) and a new owner (Delta) in 2013. It now bills itself as “the world’s largest operator of Bombardier CRJ-900 aircraft.”

Envoy Air

Photo by Envoy
Photo by Envoy

2018 Enplaned Passengers:
12.45 million
Fleet: More than 170 aircraft (including Embraer E175s, E145s and E140s; Bombardier CRJ700s)
Airline Partners: Wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines
Cities Served: 150 destinations, with hubs in Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Miami, New York, and Los Angeles
Headquarters: Irving, Texas

Fun Facts: Envoy traces its beginnings to 1998, when several small airlines joined together to form a company called American Eagle Airlines. The company changed its name to Envoy in 2014 to avoid confusion with other regional airlines that were flying under the American Eagle name.

ExpressJet Airlines

Photo by Alan Wilson / Flicker
Photo by Alan Wilson / Flicker

2018 Enplaned Passengers:
8.42 million
Fleet: 125 aircraft (includes Bombardier CRJ200s and Embraer ERJ145s. ExpressJet has also placed a big order for 25 new Embraer E175s, the first of which was delivered this past week).
Airline Partners: United
Cities Served: More than 100 airports across the United States, Canada and Mexico
Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia

Fun Facts: Until recently, ExpressJet was a wholly owned subsidiary of SkyWest (the first carrier on this list). Earlier this year, SkyWest completed its sale of ExpressJet Airlines to ManaAir, which is partly owned by United Airlines.

Horizon Air

Photo by By Johnnyw3
Photo by By Johnnyw3

2018 Enplaned Passengers:
6.54 million
Fleet: About 60 aircraft (including a mix of Bombardier Q400s and a large order of new Embraer E175s)
Airline Partners: Wholly owned subsidiary of Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines
Cities Served: The airline says it “serves more than 45 cities in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.”
Headquarters: Seattle, Washington

Fun Facts: After a troubled 2017, when massive pilot shortages forced the airline to cancel hundreds of flights, Horizon is doing much better now. It turned from an $8 million loss in 2017 to a $27 million profit last year.

Compass Airlines

Photo by Tomás Del Coro / Flickr
Photo by Tomás Del Coro / Flickr

2018 Enplaned Passengers:
5.79 million
Fleet: Embraer 175s
Airline Partners: Delta and American
Cities Served: 40 destinations, mostly in the Midwest and Western states, plus destinations in Canada and Mexico
Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Fun Facts: One of the younger airlines on this list, Compass started flying in 2007 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Northwest Airlines. In 2008, Northwest was acquired by Delta, which sold Compass to its current owner, Trans States Holdings, in 2010.

GoJet Airlines

Photo by Eric Salard / Flickr
Photo by Eric Salard / Flickr

2018 Enplaned Passengers:
4.95 million
Fleet: 54 aircraft (Bombardier CRJ700s and CRJ900s)
Airline Partners: Delta and United
Cities Served: More than 80 destinations across the United States
Headquarters: Bridgeton, Missouri

Fun Facts: GoJet has a lot in common with Compass Airlines: Like Compass, GoJet is a young airline, launching in 2005. And it has the same owner as Compass — Trans States Holdings.

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