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Regional Carrier Trans States to Suspend Operations by 2021

A Trans States ERJ-145 on the ground in St. Louis (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurtry)

The end of 2020 will mark the end of Trans States Airlines as an internal memo to employees outlined that the carrier would cease operations when their contract with United Airlines ends. The airline, based out of Bridgeton, Mo., has been operating since 1982.

Currently, the United Express operator has been utilizing Embraer ERJ-145 aircraft in its fleet with 40 aircraft in service. This number has rapidly decreased over the last year as the airline has been heavily impacted by industry changes outside of their control.

The decision to suspend operations was stated by Trans States Holdings Partners CEO Rick Leach as a consequence of the ongoing pilot shortage and United’s decision to consolidate their regional partners. The airline had been a part of the United Express family since 1995 primarily out of its Denver and Chicago O’Hare hubs.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the memo to employees says “Trans States still has an extremely important role to play in the United network throughout the reminder of 2020, but you will see a measured reduction of aircraft come off-line before the start of summer flying. United is counting on us to operate a significant number of aircraft throughout the summer, after which aircraft transitions will resume at a yet to be determined rate through the end of the year, with all flying to be concluded by the end of 2020.”

Previously named ResortAir, the airline started in 1982 and quickly took up a contract to fly regional flights across its home state of Missouri and neighboring Illinois from TWA’s hub in St. Louis. The carrier would change to its present name in 1989 to match better match that of TWA’s. Trans States would fly with TWA until its collapse while simultaneously adding new contracts for carriers like United, USAir and American. The carrier was also making headlines for its order for 50 Mitsubishi MRJs in 2009, an order that was cancelled last October.

The airline’s conclusion of service also continues the series of losses and consolidations that have impacted the regional jet industry in the United States. Over the last decade, brands like Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Mesaba Airlines, Colgan Air, Comair, and Chautauqua Airlines have all merged with a competitor or suspended operations as the fight for contracts from mainline carriers and outside effects like the economy and lack of employable pilots took a toll on these brands.

Trans States’ fleet will slowly transition to another United partner in ExpressJet Airlines, who anticipates that the entire ERJ-145 fleet will be ready to go by February 2021. The airline will modify the interiors of the aircraft to include onboard Wi-Fi and modify the airplane’s cabin and livery.

Trans States Holdings Partners will continue to operate its other two subsidiaries, Compass and GoJet. Compass currently work Embraer ERJ-170s for American Airlines and GoJet operates Bombardier CRJ-550s and CRJ-700s for United Airlines. United also recently cemented its position with GoJet, requesting an additional 20 CRJ-550s be added to the fleet.           

The final operating flight for Trans States Airlines has yet to be announced and entirely up to its mainline partner United to determine. United expects no disruptions in their flying schedules with the suspension of Trans States.

This story was updated on Tuesday, March 25, 2020 at 4:46 p.m. ET to correct an editorial styling error for Missouri.

Ian McMurtry


  • Ian McMurtry

    Although Ian McMurtry was never originally an avgeek, he did enjoy watching US Airways aircraft across western Pennsylvania in the early 2000s. He lived along the Pennsylvania Railroad and took a liking to trains but a change of scenery in the mid-2000s saw him shift more of an interest into aviation. He would eventually express this passion by taking flying lessons in mid-Missouri and joining AirlineGeeks in 2013. Now living in Wichita, Kansas, Ian is in college majoring in aerospace engineering and minoring in business administration at Wichita State University.

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