Delta Air Lines sent another clear message to its wholly owned affiliates that it won’t hesitate to outsource more regional jet flying to independent partners when it signed Mesa Air Group as the latest Delta Connection carrier last month. The 12-year deal gives Mesa’s Freedom Airlines subsidiary the right to fly up to 30 fifty-seat Bombardier CRJ200s for Delta, the first of which it expects to put into service in October.
Now that US Airways and America West Airlines have officially announced their intention to merge, the question of what will happen with the various regional airlines that fly under those airlines’ codes seems a logical one. But to answer it requires insight into any changes in store for the two majors’ own route structures, details of which remain sketchy.
Frontier Airlines has chosen to establish its own regional subsidiary to fly Bombardier Q400s last month rather than recruit its regional code-share partner and the only other airline to fly the type in the continental U.S., Seattle-based Horizon Air. The
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.
Mesa Air Group has taken responsibility for part of the lease payments on some 30 idle Fairchild Dornier 328Jets as a condition of its new code-share contract with Delta Air Lines. Scheduled to start Delta Connection service with five Embraer ERJ 145s next month, Mesa doesn’t plan to fly the German-built regional jets but sublease them to other airlines.
Colgan Air will take Shuttle America’s place at Washington Dulles Airport as the Saab 340 turboprop provider for United Airlines (UAL) under an agreement-in-principle reached between Colgan and UAL last month. Already flying 10 Saab 340Bs for Continental Airlines from Houston, Colgan will add six more of the 34-seat propjets for United starting October 4.
Strong wind gusts from August 5 thunderstorms collapsed part of the roof of a new maintenance hangar under construction for Chautauqua Airlines at Louisville International Airport. None of the construction workers on the scene at the time sustained injuries. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of up to 53 miles per hour at the airport at the time of the collapse.
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.
Slower-than-anticipated growth of regional air transport markets in Asia has apparently reached the consciousness of market prognosticators at Embraer, whose latest 20-year forecast for deliveries of small commercial jets reflects a less optimistic outlook for both China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.