United Express Carrier Trans States Airlines Will Go Out Of Business At The End Of The Year

Trans States Airlines, which currently operates 50 seat Embraer ERJ-145 regional jets for United Express, informed employees that they will go out of business at the end of the year.

Trans States Route Map

The letter states that United wants other providers to operate their ERJ-145s, and they have a hard time attracting aircraft captains in any case, so they’re going to wind down the business.

Trans States Airlines sent a letter out to employees today saying that they will conclude their business at the end of 2020. The letter states that profit margins are thin in the regional airline industry and although they feel they are operating the best equipment for the job, the market environment coupled with the pilot shortage has led the company to reach the conclusion that they will not be able to continue operating beyond the end of 2020.

Trans States Airlines began flying hopes around Missouri to places like Joplin and the Ozarks. They picked up business as TWA Express out of St. Louis in 1985, and in 1989 began flying out of Los Angeles as USAir Express. That’s where I regularly took flights on their 18 seat Jetstream 31 turboprops visiting Fresno. They used to operate as Delta Connection as well.

Operating exclusively for United put them in a difficult position, not unlike what Atlantic Coast Airlines once dealt with at Washington Dulles. They made the smart decision to cease operating, rather than continue under their own brand the way Atlantic Coast did.

While Trans States’ business wasn’t diversified, their parent company of Trans States also owns Compass Airlines and GoJet, and those brands will continue to fly.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It’s always sad when a company closes and people lose their jobs.

    But when you are basically operating at the whim of a single customer, this is what happens.

    I am sure they went to United and said “we’re losing money, can you increase your payment rates.”

    Most likely the answer was no.

  2. United probably announced reduced reimbursements the same day they increased luggage fees for customers. Because capitalism in America means abusing everyone you a customer revolution happens.

  3. My last flight with them (DEN-TUS) featured a pilot who couldn’t have been older than 21. I believe it when they say they were scraping the bottom of the barrel for labor (no offense to the kid, he flew just fine).

  4. All of their E145s will be transferred to ExpressJet, and all of ExpressJet’s E175s will be transferred to SkyWest Airlines.

  5. @Steve

    FAA rules for Air Transport Pilot (required to be a captain) require the pilot to be at least 23 years of age.

  6. At some point in the next few years this pilot shortage is going to create a perfect storm. More carriers will go under. And given the speed in which these young pilots get their training and are thrown into the cockpit it will begin to seriously undermine safety. Add climate change and more severe storms affecting operations and things like the Continental/Colgan accident in Buffalo will become far more commonplace. Or Atlas in Houston last year.

    I am fine with a 23 y/o first officer on an ERJ. But I want him paired with a 40 y/o Captain who has a lot of hours and good mental and muscle memory in reacting to those “few moments of shear terror” that every pilot sees in their flying career. All too often, especially on an ERJ, you are seeing two 24 y/o pilots who you know are fresh faced out of school and far less likely to be prepared for the unimaginable.

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