SkyWest Airlines last month said it plans to acquire 22 more regional jets as part of a strategy to retire 23 Embraer Brasilia turboprops and add 66-seat jet capacity to its United Express network. SkyWest also intends to swap four 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200s for four RJs configured with 76 seats under its Delta Connection banner.
Delta AirElite, which has operated an aircraft management and charter service since 1991 when it was still Comair Jet Express, took a step toward further expansion last month with the announcement of its Delta AirElite Fleet Membership block-charter program.
Memphis-based Northwest Airlines subsidiary Express Airlines I on May 8 officially changed its name to Pinnacle Airlines ahead of an initial public offering expected to raise $400 million.
Indianapolis-based Republic Airways will soon issue five million shares of stock at between $14 and $16 each in its third attempt to take the company public, according to a prospectus filed last month with the SEC.
The DOT’s office of inspector general is auditing the FAA’s parts certification and surveillance procedures to determine the effect of the increasing U.S. market share of foreign-built airplanes. Of particular interest is the FAA’s oversight of foreign parts from the growing segment of U.S. airlines flying regional jets from Brazil’s Embraer and Canada’s Bombardier.
United Airlines earlier this month formally rejected its code-share contract with Atlantic Coast Airlines, freeing the Sterling, Va.-based regional to speed preparations for its launch of Independence Air–the planned new discount carrier slated to fly from Washington Dulles Airport. The long-time partners have agreed to begin the separation process on June 4 and complete the divorce by August 5.
What started as an annoyance three years ago appears to have turned into a legitimate threat to the essence of the Air Line Pilots Association’s long-held strategy for protecting mainline pilot interests.
The regional airlines became an economic safety net of sorts after September 11, when the majors quickly realized they could not survive flying large airplanes nearly empty. The options–cut flights and market presence entirely or replace mainline jets with smaller aircraft–presented airlines with a clear course of action. Code-sharing regional airliners quickly delivered cost-effective solutions.
The September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon set the stage for an upheaval in the U.S. airline industry unseen since the dawn of deregulation. But while virtually no one besides the enemies of America welcomed the negative economic effects, some airlines may very well emerge from the crisis in a stronger competitive position.
Delta Airlines’ Comair Jet Express, hoping to expand its global presence as an on-demand charter and aircraft management provider, has changed its name to Delta AirElite Business Jets.