St. George, Utah-based SkyWest Airlines will finally retire its fleet of Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia turboprops by the summer under a so-called transition plan that will see it become an all-jet carrier for the first time in its history. SkyWest said the plan to remove its last 44 Brasilias stems, in part, from increased costs associated with new FAR117 flight and duty-time rules, which require first officers to carry an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate. It flies the airplanes in a West Coast network as a United Express carrier. SkyWest hasn’t yet revealed plans for discontinuing and reducing service to communities now connected to United hubs by the Brasilias.
Separately, SkyWest and mainline codes-share partner United Airlines have agreed to reduce the term of their contract governing 50-seat Embraer ERJ145s flown by SkyWest’s ExpressJet subsidiary. The new agreement calls for the contract to expire in December 2017 rather than November 2020. On November 11, fellow United Express partner Trans States Airlines announced it had agreed to fly 36 ERJ145s formerly under contract with SkyWest starting in February. It expects all of those airplanes to arrive by the second quarter of 2016. During this year’s third quarter SkyWest returned 16 leased ERJ145s to United and plans call for it to shed another 18 by the end of the year. It expects to remove another 23 ERJ145s and nine 37-seat ERJ135s by the first half of next year.