United Airlines officials say regional partner Colgan Air’s shutdown is causing few problems for travelers because other short-haul partners are picking up the slack.

Colgan-operated flights have been divided up among regional partners ExpressJet Airlines, Shuttle America and Commutair Airlines, said Mary Clark, a United spokeswoman.

Colgan, which also had a base at Washington-Dulles, ceased operating on Sept. 5, resulting in elimination of about 350 Newark jobs. The carrier ceased operations at the Bar Harbor and Presque Isle airports in 2011.

“We are reallocating aircraft around our system to mitigate the impact,” Clark said.

At Portland International Airport in Maine, ExpressJet is handling the two to three United Express flights a day formerly operated by Colgan.

But not all of the flights that Memphis-based Colgan operated for United from at Newark Liberty International Airport are still being offered, she said.

“It’s not a one-for-one replacement,” said Clark. She was unable to provide details on flights that have been trimmed.

The changes come as United makes seasonal adjustments to its schedule, and continues to combine the legacy fleets of United Airlines and merger partner Continental Airlines, to try to optimize service and cost efficiencies.

Colgan, which was the operator of ill-fated Continental Connection Flight 3407 from Newark to Buffalo that crashed on Feb. 12, 2009, killing all 49 people onboard and one on the ground, operated more than two dozen flights a day at Newark, at first under the Continental Connection banner and then, after United’s acquisition of Continental, as United Express.

It served Albany; Buffalo; Burlington, Vt.; Portland, Maine; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Washington-Dulles, and other destinations within about 500 miles from Newark, using Bombardier Q400 turboprops that could seat more than 70 passengers.

Colgan began winding down its operations in May after parent company Pinnacle Airlines Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors.

Some of the Q400s that were used by Colgan will be put back in service at Newark for United by Indianapolis-based regional carrier Republic Airlines beginning in December, Clark said.

Republic Airways Holdings Inc. announced in May that its Republic Airlines subsidiary had agreed to operate 32 Q400 aircraft under the United Express brand, including four of its own turboprops and 28 planes that were operated by Colgan.

Republic will serve many of the same markets Colgan served, Clark said.

“It was a seamless transition with no change in service,” said Scott Carr, the airport’s deputy director. And the Colgan employees were invited to apply for other positions at Pinnacle, said Joe Williams, a Pinnacle spokesman.

© 2012 The Record

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