Long a concern for regional airlines and the world’s two largest regional jet makers, a growing pessimism about the future of not only US Airways but also Delta and United Airlines carries implications for virtually the entire industry. Last month’s bankruptcy filing by US Airways only intensified the anxiety gnawing at all of the airline’s regional code-share partners.
Trans States and Chautauqua Airlines will serve seven new destinations from St. Louis starting September 5 as part of a push by American Airlines to replenish its downsized hub with regional jets. At the same time the airline will end American Connection service between St. Louis and Dallas Love Field, a route Trans States now flies for American directly against Southwest Airlines.
Brazil’s Embraer delivered its first batch of newly certified Embraer 170s to three customers last month, just as the company prepared to score a major U.S. sale for the 70- to 78-seat twinjet. Indianapolis-based Republic Airlines–the sister company of Embraer devotee Chautauqua Airlines–will become the second U.S.
Delta Connection carriers Atlantic Southeast, SkyWest and Chautauqua Airlines will fly another 45 fifty-seat regional jets under contract with Delta Air Lines under a series of deals that call for delivery of both Embraer and Bombardier airplanes through the end of next year. Wholly owned subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines will convert options on 25 Bombardier CRJ200s to a firm order, while St.
United Airlines availed itself of more options to its imperiled code-share partnership with Atlantic Coast Airlines last month, when it recruited Indianapolis-based Chautauqua and Republic Airlines and Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Shuttle America to fly as United Express out of Washington Dulles and Chicago O’Hare Airports.
Mesa Air Group will fly another 14 Bombardier CRJ900s as Delta Connection starting in September under the terms of a contract amendment that also calls for Mesa to immediately add six 50-seat ERJ 145s, then to remove eight of its original 30 ERJ 145s from August to October 2008. Delta also granted Mesa a $31 million claim in its bankruptcy case.
Bombardier has agreed to extend the delivery schedule of US Airways’ regional jets by a year and convert an order for twenty-three 50-seat CRJ200s to positions on 70-seat CRJ700s, now scheduled to enter service with wholly owned subsidiary PSA Airlines through March 2006.
It had been a somewhat quiet year since the RAA staged its annual convention in St. Louis last May. Seemingly immune to the ills that have crippled their mainline counterparts for the past four years, the regional airlines finished last year with close to 30-percent traffic gains and average yields of 10 percent, leaving many wondering how long the major airlines would allow such an imbalance to continue.
Republic Airways became the second regional airline to claim a stake in US Airways last month when it inked a conditional deal to commit $125 million in equity and up to $110 million in asset-related financing.
Houston-based regional airline ExpressJet announced here at NBAA’06 that it planned to open a new division to fly corporate charter services using 10 Embraer ERJ 145XRs scheduled for removal from its Continental Express feeder network. Plans call for the new unit, called ExpressJet Corporate Aviation, to start operations in December and absorb all 10 ERJ 145s by next May.