Mitsubishi Aircraft has officially broken the Bombardier-Embraer duopoly for regional jets in the U.S. with its confirmation on Thursday of a firm order from SkyWest Airlines for 100 MRJ90s worth $4.2 billion at list prices.
Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent storm that struck the east coast of the U.S. last month forced the world’s largest regional airline company to cancel some 3,100 flights. St. George, Utah-based SkyWest, whose ExpressJet subsidiary flies a network concentrated largely in the eastern half of the U.S., estimates it will lose some $3 million as a result of Sandy and the following week’s Nor’easter.
Republic Airways’ efforts to “restructure” its Indianapolis-based Chautauqua Airlines subsidiary appear to have yielded their intended results. During a November 1 conference call to discuss the company’s third-quarter earnings, Republic CEO Bryan Bedford reported that the regional airline holding company has found a way to mitigate future negative cash flows at Chautauqua by some $45 million over five years, largely by reaching new business agreements with several “key stakeholders ” and returning idled aircraft to revenue service.
Regional airlines serve a vital purpose all over the world even where they mix with low-cost carriers. The regionals can serve areas the low-costers cannot reach–or so goes a well known European beer advertisement. Thin routes mean smaller aircraft and services more akin to business aviation flights than those for holiday-makers.
Air Canada announced plans last month to transfer its fifteen 73-seat Embraer E175s to regional affiliate Sky Regional Airlines under the two companies’ existing capacity purchase agreement (CPA). Air Canada plans to start the transition in February and deliver the last airplane to Toronto-based Sky Regional in June.
Bankrupt AMR moved a step closer to its goal of saving $1.25 billion a year in employee-related costs as the pilots of American Eagle voted last Monday to ratify a tentative agreement reached between their Air Line Pilots Association bargaining committee and airline management. Of the regional airline’s some 3,000 pilots, 85 percent cast ballots. Seventy percent of participating pilots voted in favor of the agreement.
The western Indian state of Gujarat has what amounts to its first regional airline with the launch of Deccan Shuttles by G.R. Gopinath, who founded India’s first low-cost airline, Air Deccan, before selling it to Kingfisher Airlines. Scheduled operations started on August 27 using a pair of nine-seat Cessna 208B Grand Caravans. The turboprop singles ply the Ahmedabad-Surat-Bhavnagar and Ahmedabad-Kandla routes, marking the first-ever direct air service between provincial cities in this large state.
Pinnacle Airlines has resumed talks with its employee groups over contract concessions, following a recalculation of the cost savings it says it needs to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to Pinnacle, it now needs to shed $76 million to return to viability due in large part to Delta Air Lines’ plans to shed more than 200 fifty-seat regional jets from the Delta Connection system. It originally asked for $43 million in concessions.
Europe’s regional airlines face many challenges–not least of which centers on trying to change the way politicians in Brussels view aviation. The European Regions Airline Association (ERA) expends much effort on behalf of its 65 members trying to convince Eurocrats that regional airlines provide vital economic links that need nurturing in an era of consistently high fuel prices and an economic downturn severe enough to threaten the very existence of the European Union.