Delta became the first carrier to introduce regional jets in in 1993, when then-independent Comair began operating Bombardier CRJs. Delta Connection was created as a subsidiary in January 2000 following the acquisitions of ASA and Comair. In July 2000, ASA and Comair placed the largest regional jet order ever, placing firm orders for 110 CRJs. Delta Connection was moved from Cincinnati to Atlanta in November 2001 and Fred Buttrell was named Delta Connection chief executive. Delta estimates that between 1995 and 2001 regional jets improved the profitability of the mainline operation by $210 million, as additional regional jets allowed mainline aircraft to be redeployed to more profitable routes. ASA and Comair today operate about 70% of Delta Connection's regional jets. ASA operates 79 CRJs and Comair 116 CRJs. Atlantic Coast Airlines and SkyWest Airlines operate 30 and 44 regional jets, respectively, for Delta. Chautauqua will become a Delta Connection carrier next month and operate 22 regional jets for Delta by the end of next year. The average Delta Connection flight is 650km (350nm). This year 12 million passengers will fly on Delta Connection. Cincinnati is by far Delta's most regional jet-dependent hub, with over 350 daily departures compared with 160 mainline. Delta plans to have 372 regional jets in its network by the end-2003; a 27% share of the world regional jet market.

Source: Flight International