Air Transport World

The silent partner. (Delta Airlines connection carrier, Business Express) (company profile)

Delta Connection carriers long have had the reputation of some of the best in the regional-airline business. Three of the four Delta partners have been recognized nationally for their excellence. The fourth, Business Express, doesn't seem to mind not getting public notice.

"No, I don't feel that we have gotten a raw deal," Jim Malski, the airline's 34-year-old president said. "Part of the reason we don't get the exposure is that we are privately held. The other reason is that we have consciously made an effort not to be flashy.

"From a competitive standpoint, we kind of like not having our competitors know exactly what our cost structure is."

Like it or not, Business Express is starting to get noticed. Since its November, 1984 launch, the carrier's modus operandi for expansion, in part, has been to acquire financially strapped carriers. In fact, the airline is the product of an acquisition. Atlantic Air, a struggling small commuter airline providing Philadelphia/Boston service, was acquired in 1984 by Marketing Corp. of America, headquartered in Westport, which renamed it Business Express. Two years later, Pilgrim Airlines, another Connecticut-based carrier, was bought, making Business Express even then the largest regional airline in the Northeast.

In 1986, Business Express joined the Delta Connection program. In September, 1989, albany, N.Y.-based Mall Airways, which operated key U.S./Canada transborder routes, was added. Last year, Business Express acquired a number of Saab 340s and Beech 1900s from bankrupt Metro Airlines Northeast, in what one airline observer described as a "fire sale." It also hired and trained more than 250 employees as part of the aircraft deal.

And now, Business Express is positioning itself to acquire Pan Am Express's JFK operation in order to feed Delta, which recently acquired Pan Am's European routes. …

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