On June 27, 1979, Atlantic Southeast Airlines took to the skies for the first time, beginning the regional carriers’ long and successful journey in the skies above the Southeastern United States and far beyond. Based in Atlanta, Atlantic Southeast, often referred to as ASA, maintained close ties with larger carriers such as Delta, bringing them even greater success and benefits.
The first flight was operated using a Twin Otter aircraft. In 1980, an Embraer Bandeirante turboprop was delivered, followed by several more. Over the course of their history, ASA operated various turboprops, including ATR72s, DASH 7s, and most notably the Embraer Brasilia. In 1995, ASA added the BAe146, a more modern airliner, to their turboprop dominated fleet. By 2011, the carrier was operating the CRJ200ER, CRJ700ER, and the CRJ900ER.
On March 22, 1999, Delta acquired Atlantic Southeast Airlines, increasing their minimal stake to one hundred percent. Operations commenced in May of that same year. In 2000, the Delta Connection carrier commenced operations to Toronto, Canada from their Atlanta hub. Then, in 2002, ASA began operating a Delta Connection CRJ700ER airplane, a more spacious version of earlier CRJ aircraft.
In 2005, Delta sold Atlantic Southeast to SkyWest for $425 million. SkyWest subsequently transferred many of ASAs aircraft and took delivery of ASAs regional airplane orders. Over the next several years, service to the west coast, primarily to Los Angeles, was expanded, and ASA received multiple airplanes from both SkyWest and Delta.
In 2010, SkyWest announced that they would merge with ExpressJet. This merge would also include Atlantic Southeast since they were a wholly owned subsidiary of SkyWest. In July 2011, Atlantic Southeast declared that their post-merger company name would be “SureJet.” However, employees from both ASA and ExpressJet responded so negatively that the name was scrapped within one day. In October, the companies announced that their official name would be ExpressJet Airlines. On November 22, 2011, the FAA approved the single operating certificate under ExpressJet’s name, completing the merge and eliminating Atlantic Southeast’s brand.
Despite the merge that ended Atlantic Southeast Airlines, the former regional carrier had found much success during their 32-year existence. The airline connected countless cities across the Southeastern US and expanded both north and west a great distance. The beloved and memorable regional carrier has flown into history, however, it will not be soon forgotten.