Valdosta airport to see bigger Delta jets but fewer flights starting Monday

May 1—VALDOSTA — Bigger passenger planes with more seats are coming to Valdosta Regional Airport starting Monday — but the tradeoff is fewer flights per day.

Delta Airlines, through its Delta Connection subsidiary, will replace the current Bombardier CRJ-200 jets it uses for regional service at Valdosta and several other South Georgia cities with the larger Bombardier CRJ-900 planes, said Jim Galloway, manager of the Valdosta Regional Airport.

"We're happy about this," he said.

The CRJ-900s have 76 seats each, as opposed to the CRJ-200's 50 seats, according to a Delta fact sheet.

The 900-series planes also offer 12 first-class seats, with larger chairs and more leg room, Galloway said. The new planes offer regular main cabin seats, Delta Comfort+ seats and first-class seating, according to the fact sheet.

Delta's CRJ-900s also offer in-flight wi-fi for purchase in first class and Comfort+, as well as in-seat power sockets for those classes of seating.

Delta is switching aircraft types due to a pilot shortage, Galloway said. Valdosta Regional Airport, now handling three Delta flights a day between Valdosta and Atlanta, will lose a daily flight starting Monday and arrival/departure times for the remaining two flights will be shuffled.

Delta's online flight schedules for the week show arrivals in Valdosta from Atlanta at 1:17 p.m. and 8:22 p.m., while departures from Valdosta will be at 7:33 a.m. and 3:20 p.m.

Galloway said anything less than three flights a day could start to impact passenger numbers for business fliers "but I hope it doesn't."

With three flights a day on the CRJ-200s, Valdosta Regional Airport could see as many as 150 passengers inbound and outbound on a single day; with the two larger-capacity CRJ-900s, that increases to 152 maximum passengers a day each way.

Delta is also switching service to the CRJ-900 jets at regional airports in Albany, Brunswick and Columbus Monday, Galloway said.

If the pilot shortage can be solved, it's possible more flights could be added, he said, but he wasn't optimistic this would happen anytime soon.

Terry Richards is the senior reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times.