SkyWest loses 66 Delta regional jets, picks up 34 larger aircraft

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SkyWest Inc. has agreed to remove 66 50-seat regional jets feeding Delta Air Lines network over the next three years, replacing the capacity with 34 larger aircraft that will be delivered within the next 11 months.

The announcement today by the St. George, Utah-based regional carrier is Delta's latest move in its broader strategy to wind down the majority of its 50-seat operations.

Last week, Delta announced closing wholly-owned subsidiary Comair by removing 16 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200s from its network and redistributing 70-76-seat CRJ700s and CRJ900s to other carriers.

Of the 66 CRJ200s being removed from SkyWest Inc.'s Delta operations, 41 are owned by Delta and will be returned to the carrier, SkyWest Inc. says. The remaining 25 CRJ200s are financed by SkyWest Inc.

The carrier "is currently working on opportunities to mitigate the financial risk associated with removing those aircraft from Delta service," SkyWest Inc says in a statement.

All of the CRJ200s will be removed between this month and December 2015, according to SkyWest Inc., the parent of SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet, which has absorbed Atlantic Southeast Airlines.

The five CRJ700s and 29 CRJ900s will be delivered to SkyWest Inc between this month and June 2013, SkyWest Inc. says.