Air Transport World

The National REGIONAL.

Continued growth, a $1 billion order fore more RJs and millions in earnings every year show why Comair reigns supreme among its peers

Other U.S. Regional airlines wish they had this identity crisis. According to the U.S. DOT, Comair has been a National carrier since 1989, when it began posting more than $100 million in annual revenues, DOT's benchmark for National status.

But even with $651 million in revenues for fiscal 1998, Delta Connection Comair still is called a Regional airline. And while its colorful president and CEO, David Siebenburgen, disdains labels, he offers the following: "Let's just say we're a very large Regional with close ties to Delta, which has made a lot of money for our stockholders."

The 14-year veteran of the airline can afford to be a little cocky. He and Chairman David Mueller have made Comair one of the most consistently profitable and continually growing Regional airlines worldwide. It is an airline that carries around 500,000 passengers per month from hubs in Cincinnati and Orlando; an airline with earnings of $34.6 million for the fiscal second quarter ended last Sept. 30 and net income of $102 million in its most recent fiscal year ended March 31, 1998; an airline ranked 16th among all U.S. publicly traded companies for shareholder returns over the past 10 years, whose stock has split seven times since February, 1985; an airline that pioneered the fleet conversion from turboprops to RJs in the U.S., and an airline with only one dilemma now--finding enough lift and terminal space at Cincinnati to handle the growth. It offers more than 270 daily departures to 66 destinations from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Help is on the way. Recently, Comair announced a $1 billion follow-on order for 30 of the 50-seat Canadair Regional Jets to add to the 67 it operates already, and 20 of the upcoming 70-seat version, the CRJ-700. …

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