Twin Cities-based Compass Airlines is ceasing operations next month in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and the leader of the flight attendants union warned Thursday of other carriers at risk of the same fate without swift government assistance for the industry.
“Compass Airlines has made the difficult decision to cease operations, effective April 7,” read a statement from the company, which has a deep history in Minnesota but has been strictly a western states carrier in recent years.
“Radical capacity reductions left Compass without the ability to fly even minimally viable schedules,” the statement continued.
Also, Compass’ Delta-affiliated operations, scheduled to wind down later this year, will instead end March 31, the airlines said. American’s regional drawdown at Los Angeles International Airport will eliminate all of Compass’ remaining flights effective April 7.
“This is devastating,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents more than 200 cabin crew members at Compass among its 50,000 or so working for 20 airlines.
“And if the government doesn’t act fast, we’re going to see more casualties,” Nelson continued, alluding to President Donald Trump’s push for Congress to give commercial airlines a $50 billion bailout. “That’s why we’re working so hard to get a relief package right away that puts workers first.”
Rick Leach, CEO of Trans States, told employees in a memo Thursday that “it’s difficult to articulate or even comprehend the speed at which the coronavirus has changed our industry and our world, and the impact it has had on our company. The impact of this global crisis is real and unfortunately, no carrier, mainline or regional, is immune from its reach.”
Compass closed its Minneapolis pilot, flight-attendant and maintenance base at the end of 2017. The airline used to fly several MSP routes for Delta, but now, under parent Trans States Airlines, exclusively flies in western states. Compass kept its corporate headquarters in the Twin Cities.
Compass was born out of a labor dispute at Northwest Airlines in 2007. Its logo still has the same gray circle and red arrow, pointing northwest, as its former parent company.
It started with one route between Washington-Dulles and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). Compass was folded into Delta following the merger with Northwest. Delta sold Compass in 2010 to Trans States Holdings, which also owns GoJet.
Star Tribune staff writer Kristen Painter contributed to this report.