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.
Pilot attrition proved the bane of the U.S. regional airline business during the first half of the year, forcing flight cancellations that cost carriers not only passenger revenue and goodwill, but performance penalties under the terms of their mainline code-share contracts. Judging by the sentiments airline CEOs expressed recently, better recruiting and training efforts have stopped the proverbial bleeding.
Embraer has launched a program to add as much as 300 nm of range to its 70-
and 76-seat E-Jets. Dubbed the E170AR and E175AR, the airplanes will receive the
The cyclical nature of the airline business showed its inevitability again at this year’s Regional Airline Association convention, held May 21 to 24 in Memphis, Tenn. More than 1,500 visitors passed through the turnstiles at the Memphis Convention Center–a record number for an RAA convention.
Bombardier Aerospace unveiled a series of updates to its CRJ900 regional jet during a June 5 event at the Signature Flight Support FBO at Washington Dulles International Airport. The 76-seat CRJ900 NextGen on display there became the first to enter revenue service on June 7, when Northwest Airlines subsidiary Mesaba Airlines flew it to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport from Minneapolis.
Bombardier Aerospace is showing its CRJ900 NextGen regional-jet here in 76-seat guise and the uniform of Northwest Airlines subsidiary Mesaba Airlines less than two weeks after a sister machine was unveiled in Washington, D.C. For regionals like Mesaba, the NextGen CRJ “will have substantially lower seat-mile costs than [competing] Embraer regional jets,” according to commercial-operations vice president Rod Williams.
Boeing’s Alteon Training subsidiary has signed an agreement with Northwest Airlines (NWA) to provide flight training on seven aircraft types at the carrier’s Eagan, Minnesota headquarters. The agreement includes the introduction of a 787 full-flight simulator at the NWA training center by April 2008 and exclusive rights allowing Alteon to market excess simulator training time to all 787 customers.
Mesaba Airlines expected to exit bankruptcy during the last week of April, following the approval of its reorganization plan by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Gregory Kishel. The Minneapolis-based Northwest Airlines affiliate filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2005, a month after the major airline itself filed for Chapter 11 and defaulted on its service contract payments to Mesaba.
Northwest Airlines’ newest regional subsidiary, Compass Airlines, planned to launch twice-daily service on May 2 between Minneapolis and Washington Dulles International Airport.
This year’s RAA Convention couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time and place for Memphis, Tenn.’s hometown airline. The proud new owner of a second operating subsidiary and revamped service contract with Northwest Airlines, Pinnacle Airlines has officially shed the manacles of a highly restrictive code-share deal and joined the open market for regional services.