United Airlines to fly 7 more routes with upgraded Bombardier CRJ550
United Airlines will add seven more routes to those flown by its Bombardier CRJ550, part of the continued roll out of the carrier's first 50-seat jet with a first-class cabin.
The Star Alliance airline is adding routes on the jet from its hubs at Chicago O'Hare (ORD), Newark Liberty (EWR), and Washington Dulles (IAD) beginning in April, according to Cirium schedules:
- April 4: Newark to Hilton Head, South Carolina (HHH); and Washington Dulles to Hilton Head
- May 8: Chicago O'Hare to Birmingham, Alabama (BHM); Newark to Indianapolis (IND), Norfolk (ORF), and Toronto (YYZ)
- June 4: Newark to Raleigh/Durham (RDU)
United spokesman Luke Punzenberger confirmed the routes to TPG. He said the airline looks forward to "bringing the CRJ550 experience to more of our customers in the months ahead.”
The carrier began flying the CRJ550 in October. The jet is a retrofitted CRJ700 airframe with 50 seats, including 10 in first class, 20 in Economy Plus, and 20 in Economy. The aircraft features closets that United claims eliminates the need for passengers to gate-check bags and a self-service snack bar for first class passengers.
United is using its CRJ550s to help replace its economy-only 50-seat regional jets. The dual-class layout allows the airline to better compete with rivals who it says have a competitive advantage with more 76-seat regional jets, while remaining compliant with its pilots' contract that caps it at 255 of the larger models.
The airline is also taking advantage of the new type to add more Embraer 175s to its feeder fleet. As CRJ700s are removed for conversion to CRJ550, United is able to add more E-Jets that passengers largely view as more comfortable. Next year, it will add 20 E175s in a 70-seat configuration under a recently announced deal with Mesa Airlines.
With 54 CRJ550s due by the end of 2020, United will add more routes through the spring and summer. The aircraft is due to enter service between Newark and Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA) on a new shuttle-like service this spring, airline executives have said.
United begins flying the CRJ550 from Newark in February and Washington in March.