American Eagle fleet adjustments will mean fewer cramped regional jets

Apr 30, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

It’s not just mainline carriers that are shaking up their fleets in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

American Airlines has announced the retirement of a number of jet types, including the Boeing 757 and Airbus A330-300. Now the regional carriers that fly for its Eagle division are making changes of their own.

Those operators are purging some of the smallest regional jets from their fleets, reducing the number of aircraft that are among the most unpopular with travelers.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news.

AA’s PSA affiliate is retiring its entire fleet of Bombardier CRJ 200s, saying the 50-seat jets will be out of service, effective immediately.

“American has made their plans clear to reduce single-class regional jets around the American Eagle system,” PSA president Dion Flannery said in a letter to employees reviewed by TPG. “Retiring these older, single-class aircraft from our fleet sooner than originally planned avoids unnecessary maintenance and fuel costs.”

At American’s Envoy affiliate, the retirement of the 44-seat E140s is also being accelerated.

“The latest projections suggest that customer travel demand will build back slowly, so we have also accelerated the retirement of 22 of these inactive E140s,” Pedro Fábregas, Envoy’s president and CEO, said in a letter to employees reviewed by TPG.

Related: American Airlines leads shift to smaller jets for flights still flying in U.S.

However, the moves don’t quite mark the end of these unpopular, small, all-economy jets. Envoy will continue flying the roughly two dozen of the E140s that remain in its fleet.

Still, travelers are likely to welcome the news that the number of the smallest regional jets in operation is being reduced. They are among the least popular planes with passengers, disliked for minimal standing room, tiny overhead bins and for feeling generally cramped.

The changes are expected to increase the percentage of larger regional jets in the overall American Eagle fleet, which — across several affiliates — also includes Embraer E175s and E145s and Bombardier CRJ-900s and CRJ 700s. Except for the E145s, the other types are all configured with both first class and economy.

Regional jet usage exploded in the 2000s, replacing turboprops on short-haul routes around the country. The swap initially was welcomed by passengers who generally preferred jets — even small ones — to prop planes. But the satisfaction was short-lived. Airlines quickly increased the usage of regional jets, putting them on more flights and on longer and longer routes. Those decisions pushed the planes out of favor with many travelers.

Related: Airlines add new rules as call for masks on planes gets louder

By 2010s, the pendulum began swinging the other way, thanks to a combination of spiking fuel prices and other economic factors. Suddenly, airlines couldn’t retire their smallest, relatively inefficient regional jets fast enough. That trend is only being accelerated as airlines revisit their fleet strategies amid plummeting demand for travel.

The latest fleet changes at American Eagle come as the regional network itself is changing during the pandemic.

A pilot for Envoy confirmed to TPG Thursday that American had ordered the affiliate to suspend flying in and out of Miami from May 7 to June 3. The move was first made public on Twitter by JonNYC. Envoy had already stopped serving JFK and LaGuardia airports in New York in late March, and airlines across the board continue making or extending cuts to their network, waiting for demand to recover.

Read more: Here’s why airlines probably aren’t using this moment to spruce up their planes

Featured photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.