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Compass Airlines (North America)

Compass Airlines, LLC, is a regional airline headquartered in Delta Air Lines Building C at Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport in Fort Snelling, Hennepin County, Minnesota;[2][3] prior to December 16, 2009, it was headquartered in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, east of the Chantilly CDP.[4][5][6] The airline launched inaugural service with a single Bombardier CRJ200LR aircraft under the Northwest Airlink (now Delta Connection) brand between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Washington, D.C. on May 2, 2007. On August 21, 2007, it began flying two Embraer 175 76-passenger aircraft, and expanded to 36 aircraft by December 2008.

Compass Airlines
Compass Airlines.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
AOC #C77A868L[1]
Frequent-flyer programSkyMiles (Delta)
AAdvantage (American)
AllianceSkyTeam (Delta)
oneworld (American)
Fleet size52
Parent companyTrans States Holdings
HeadquartersMinneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport
Fort Snelling, Minnesota
Key peopleRick Leach (President and CEO)
The company headquarters, Delta Air Lines Building C at Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport

In July 2010, the airline was purchased from Delta Air Lines and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Trans States Holdings. This airline is the only remaining airline of the former Northwest Group.


Former Northwest Airlink Embraer 175 operated by Compass

Compass Airlines was formed as a result of a contract dispute between Northwest Airlines and its pilots' union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The Northwest Airlines pilot group was asked to give relief on a section of their collective bargaining agreement governing "scope", which protects pilot jobs by ensuring that an airline's customers are flown by the employees of that airline. The pilots eventually agreed to a concession on the scope of their contract allowing a limited number of 76-seat aircraft to be flown by outsourced pilots working for a subcontractor regional airline. In exchange for their concession the Northwest Airlines pilots demanded in return that the pilots of these new aircraft would eventually "flow-up" into mainline pilot jobs at Northwest Airlines, and that Northwest Airlines pilots would retain the ability to "flow-down" into the newly subcontracted pilot jobs in the event that Northwest Airlines were to furlough the mainline pilots.

In order to adapt to the agreement, and fulfill a need to serve the regional markets with smaller, more efficient aircraft and a dramatically reduced wage labor force, Northwest bought the operating certificate of bankrupt Independence Air on March 10, 2006 for $2 million. During the concept phase, the subsidiary was known as "NewCo". Compass' operations are limited to 76-seat aircraft or less, due to the language in the pilot contract at the mainline carrier.

On September 28, 2006, Compass Airlines officially received approval from the United States Department of Transportation to begin operations. On April 5, 2007, Compass Airlines received FAA certification to begin commercial passenger operations with a CRJ-200[7]

On May 2, 2007, the airline had their first revenue flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport,[8] which maintained the operating certificate. Compass implemented Embraer operations on August 21, 2007.

On July 1, 2010, Delta Air Lines announced that it sold Compass Airlines to Trans States Holdings for US$20.5 million.[9] Despite the change in ownership, Compass still shares many things with their former parents, including the pre-merger Northwest online crew scheduling software RADAR, headquarters in a Delta-owned building, and a logo that is a modified version of the final Northwest Airlines logo.

On March 27, 2015, the airline began flying one of twenty brand new Embraer E-175, operating for American Airlines under the American Eagle (airline brand), with the initial flight being from Los Angeles International Airport to Houston Intercontinental Airport.

In August, 2019, Delta Air lines made the decision to reduce the number of regional carriers that fly as Delta connection and terminated the agreement for regional flying with Compass Airlines.[10] This move will remove 36 aircraft from the airline and reduce the number of aircraft flying for Compass Airlines from 56 to 20.[11]

Compass has its maintenance bases in Phoenix, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle/Tacoma.[12]


Crew BasesEdit

  • Los Angeles – American Eagle & Delta Connection[13]
  • Phoenix - American Eagle[13]
  • Seattle/Tacoma - Delta Connection[13]


As of October 2019, the Compass Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft:[14][15][16]

Aircraft Total Orders Seating Notes
F E+ Y Total
Embraer E175 32 (32) 12 20 44 76 Operated as Delta Connection. 6 to be purchased and operated for Delta Connection by SkyWest Airlines. Remaining 26 to be transferred to Republic Airways.[citation needed]
20 12 20 44 Operated as American Eagle.
Total 52 (32)  

Labor relationsEdit

Both the pilot and flight attendant groups are unionized, with pilots being represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, and flight attendants represented by the Association of Flight Attendants.

The flight attendants negotiated and approved a five-year contract with the company on May 1, 2013, following a failed vote on a tentative agreement in late 2011.[17] The new contract gave employees pay increases, a larger 401(k) match, a signing bonus, and other working condition improvements.

On August 25, 2010, Compass Airlines fired a flight attendant after she appeared on a local television program admitting publicly that she qualified for food stamps, even though she was a full-time employee of the airline.[18]


  • On May 8, 2008, Compass Airlines Flight 2040 bound for Regina, Saskatchewan from Minneapolis with 74 passengers and 4 crew on board was forced to land in Fargo, North Dakota after a fire broke out in the restroom. The plane landed at 11:00 pm; no injuries to passengers were reported. A week after the incident, a 19-year-old flight attendant was charged with starting the fire.[19] He pleaded not guilty, but before trial, he fled to Mexico. He was arrested in Mexico April 5, 2011, and was extradited to the US to stand trial.[20] He was sentenced to seven years in prison on December 16, 2011.[21]
  • On November 15, 2010, Compass Airlines Flight 5887 bound for Missoula, Montana from Minneapolis with 76 passengers and 4 crew on board was forced to return to Minneapolis after the aircraft received substantial damage when it collided with a flock of birds. The plane landed 22 minutes after departure; no injuries to passengers were reported.[22]


  1. ^ "Federal Aviation Administration - Airline Certificate Information - Detail View". Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  2. ^ "Expanded Branch and ATM Access Comes to the Twin Cities Archived 2012-03-18 at the Wayback Machine." Wings Financial. Retrieved on January 19, 2012. "Delta Air Lines Bldg. C* 7500 Airline Drive Minneapolis, MN"
  3. ^ "delta air lines' farmers market-building c." Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Retrieved on January 19, 2012. "Location: MSP Airport-Delta Building C, North Side near Compass Airlines Entrance"
  4. ^ "About Us Archived July 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine." Compass Airlines. Retrieved on September 26, 2009 and on December 18, 2009.
  5. ^ "Chantilly CDP, Virginia Archived June 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on September 26, 2009.
  6. ^ "Fort Snelling UT, Hennepin county, Minnesota." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on December 19, 2009.
  7. ^ Compass Airlines Receives DOT & FAA Approval To Begin Operations (USA Today: April 6, 2007)
  8. ^ Northwest Airlines' Subsidiary Compass Takes Off (New York Times: May 2, 2007)
  9. ^ "Delta to sell Mesaba and Compass for $82.5 million". 1 July 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  10. ^ "Delta Ends Contracts with Compass and GoJet – Aeronautics". Retrieved Nov 4, 2019.
  11. ^ Hemmerdinger, Jon (2019-08-06). "Delta to terminate Compass and GoJet partnerships". Retrieved 2019-09-05.
  12. ^ "Compass Airlines - Maintenance". 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  13. ^ a b c "Compass Airlines - Flight Attendants". 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  14. ^ "Compass Airlines Fleet Details and History". Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  15. ^ "About Us Our Aircraft". Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  16. ^ "Compass Airlines USA Fleet of E170 (Active) - Airfleets aviation".
  17. ^ [1] (Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)
  18. ^ Flight Attendant Gets Fired For Saying She Qualifies For Food Stamps (Aviation Online Magazine, August 28, 2010. Accessed September 6, 2010.)
  19. ^ Angry flight attendant charged with setting fire on plane (CNN: May 15, 2008)
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-06-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)(WDAY: April 5, 2011)
  21. ^ [2] (
  22. ^ [3] (The Aviation Herald: January 19, 2011)

External linksEdit