Regional flight airlines are an integral part of a country’s transportation system. These are short flights that service cities within a state, or across state borders. Regional flight airlines use planes that are often smaller than those used in international flights, and these are usually optimized for short distances.
Regional flight airlines often operate small fleets of airplanes with seating capacities of 99 passengers or less. Some airlines, called “air taxi” services consist of small aircraft with up to 19 passengers. As most regional flights are short-haul flights, many of these don’t require flight attendants, and are seating-only flights (meaning passengers cannot roam around the aircraft while cruising).
Some of these airlines are subsidiaries of bigger carriers, and might carry the brand name of their parent company. However, in most cases, operations are separate from the parent company, and only the branding is shared, along with aircraft styling and colors. Still, the use of branding is beneficial to smaller companies, as they get prestige in being associated with a well recognized brand.
Here are some of the more well-known regional airlines that ply regional routes.
- Delta Connection. This company operated by the Delta Airline Corporation has destinations in just about every region in the United States. Delta Connection mostly services the Southern states, particularly the region of Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. The airline also operates in areas near the Great Lakes in the geographically-challenged parts of Michigan, as well as the mountainous regions of Utah, Phoenix and Arizona.
- Continental Airlines and Continental Express. These two airlines are operated by Continental and both service several regions in the United States. These flights are considered “buses in the sky,” since there are times when land travel is especially infeasible and inefficient. These two companies are just umbrella names for almost a dozen smaller airlines that have gained the right to use the name “Continental” in their operations and branding on the aircraft bodies.
- United. United Airways also has a stable of budget and regional airlines. These light aircraft mostly service the Northeastern seaboard of the United States, mainly the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the rest of New England.
Apart from traditional airline services, many regional airlines have also joined in on the trend of offering low-cost, no-frills flights, which allow for very low ticket prices, but without the usual benefits like in-flight meals and entertainment. Low cost airlines often have stricter cancellation and rebooking policies. This kind of setup is acceptable for short-haul flights, in which passengers can forego comfort in exchange for better rates. Some examples of airlines that offer no-frills services are JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Some big carriers have also started offering low-cost alternatives to their regular flights.
Regional airlines are especially relevant in terms of providing feeder routes and connections to and from the country’s main international hubs. Regional airlines, particularly “air taxi” services, are also useful in transporting people and goods in remote areas where land travel is impractical or not possible.