Bombardier employees in Montreal and Belfast might thank, among others, SkyWest Airlines for the Canadian manufacturer’s decision to boost regional
jet production this year. A firm order from the St. George-based carrier for 18 CRJ700s and four CRJ900s announced on November 30 raised last year’s CRJ sales totals to 136 and the production backlog for the ubiquitous regional jet series to 168.
SkyWest signed the contract soon after 65 percent of its pilots rejected the Air Line Pilots Association’s latest efforts to represent the group. Plans call for SkyWest pilots to fly all 22 of the newly ordered airplanes.
Ordered in a three-class, 66-seat configuration, the 18 CRJ700s will begin arriving late this year and serve SkyWest’s United Express network as part of a plan to retire 23 of its 59 Embraer Brasilia turboprops flying on the West Coast. Plans call for the four CRJ900s, outfitted with 76 seats in a two-class configuration, to replace the same number of CRJ200s flying in the Delta Connection system. The contract also includes options for 22 more airplanes, which SkyWest can apply to either the CRJ700 or CRJ900. Together, SkyWest Airlines and ASA operate the world’s largest CRJ fleet, which now stands at 363 airplanes–244 CRJ200s, 102 CRJ700s and 17 CRJ900s.