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.
Hopes for a first-quarter launch of US Airways’ MidAtlantic division dimmed to a flicker last month as pilots continued their dispute over payscales for new Embraer 170 positions and management took steps to sell off assets to meet minimum federal loan requirements.
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.
Republic Airlines will fly 17 seventy-six-seat Embraer E170s as Frontier Jet Express under a new code-share contract meant to replace and expand service now performed by Seattle-based Horizon Air with Bombardier CRJ700s. The 11-year contract calls for the first aircraft to enter service next month and the last in December 2008. Horizon’s contract with Frontier expires in December.
Indianapolis-based Chautauqua Airlines has transferred the last of its once 23-strong fleet of Embraer 170 jets to its sister carrier, Shuttle America. The move relieves parent company Republic Airways of penalties it has had to pay American Airlines for scope-clause violations. The contract signed by American and its pilots prohibits any American Connection carrier from flying jets that hold more than 50 seats for any partner.
The 78- to 88-seat Embraer E175 earned its FAA certification last month, paving the way for deliveries to start in the U.S. Indianapolis-based Republic Airlines, still the only U.S. customer for the stretched-by-two-rows variant of the Embraer E170, plans to start accepting its order for 30 of the airplanes in an 86-seat configuration next year.
Republic Airways last month offered another 7.75 million shares of common stock to help fund a fleet expansion that will see it field 28 Embraer 170s for US Airways and another five for United Airlines. Republic Airways operating unit Republic Airlines, formed last year to fly the 70-seat jets for United, to earn its operating certificate imminently.
The FAA certainly tested its patience, but Republic Airways appeared likely to win an operating certificate for its new Republic Airlines division in time to launch Embraer 170 service for US Airways and Delta Air Lines early this month.
In a move advertised as another triumph for Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell’s economic stimulus plan, Republic Airlines has agreed to establish a new overnight maintenance facility and crew base at Pittsburgh International Airport that will employ between 60 and 70 mechanics and 60 to 70 pilots and flight attendants.
US Airways plans to transfer the last of the assets of MidAtlantic Airways to Republic Airways on May 28, marking an inauspicious end to what once formed the basis of US Air’s strategy to emerge from bankruptcy. Another 368 employees, most of whom remain in Philadelphia, will lose their jobs, although many will get a chance to work for Republic, which has agreed to place a heavy maintenance facility in Pittsburgh.