United Ramps up Regional Jet Stockpile With ExpressJet Purchase
Give anything long enough, and history is apt to repeat itself — even in aviation. ExpressJet, once a subsidiary of Continental Airlines, is coming back home in a roundabout way. After ceasing regional jet operations with Delta Air Lines in 2017, parent company SkyWest is selling ExpressJet to United Airlines joint venture ManaAir, LLC for $70 million in cash.
ExpressJet presently operates a fleet of more than 120 jets: 105 Embraer ERJ-145s, 14 Bombardier CRJ700s, eight CRJ200s and one CRJ100. With Delta out of the mix and its service to American Airlines winding down, the move to United is a logical one.
The company will operate 25 United-owned Embraer 175 aircraft, which "feature a special, 70-seat configuration versus the current 76-seat E175 configuration that's currently flying." The transition is slated to begin in Q2 2019, and if things go well the agreement also gives ExpressJet "priority position to add 25 new dual-cabin aircraft with United should those opportunities arise."
There's no word just yet on which routes or regions these jets will serve, but it's safe to say that competition is rising in the space. Beginning Jan. 31, 2019, Delta Air Lines will begin serving short and medium-haul markets with the new Airbus A220 — a narrowbody jet with 3-2 seating that looks, feels and acts like a modern widebody within. Meanwhile, we're still waiting for the next-gen E2 showcased in 2016 to become a reality.