Indianapolis-based Republic Airways has agreed with United Airlines to fly the 28 Bombardier Q400s that bankrupt Pinnacle Airlines plans to return to its lessors, Republic announced Monday.
Now flown by Pinnacle Airlines from Newark, Houston and Washington Dulles Airports as United Express, the batch of 74-seat turboprops would boost Republic Airways’ complement of Q400s to 32. The eight-year capacity purchase agreement would take effect during this year’s third quarter. It remains contingent on Republic reaching binding agreements with Pinnacle’s aircraft lessors and maintenance providers, which the company said it expects to occur by the end of June. Pinnacle plans to “wind down” all its Q400 flying by November.
Republic Airways, whose United Express operation now encompasses 32 Shuttle America Embraer 170s and 13 Chautauqua Airlines ERJ-145s, would place the 28 newly acquired Q400s on its Republic Airlines certificate. Under the deal, it appears the four Q400s, which Republic’s Lynx subsidiary flies out of Denver under the Frontier brand, will transfer to the Republic Airlines certificate and also fly as United Express. At one time Republic planned to place all its Q400s with other operators and close Lynx, but failed to find takers for the final four.
“We are confident our experience with the Q400 turboprop aircraft will translate to a level of service that will meet the high expectations of United and their customers,” said Bryan Bedford, Republic Airways chairman, president and CEO. “We look forward to working with United on this important project.”