United expanding large regional jet fleet

More regional jets are coming to United Airlines and that’s quite likely good news for everyone involved. The announcement today will add 50 additional Embraer E75s to the operation through regional operator Republic Airways Holdings. The move will allow the existing operating agreement with Republic subsidiary Shuttle America to be adjusted and the E75 fleet assignments to be shifted as needed. The new planes are expected to be delivered between 2015-2017 and are in addition to the 70 E75s previously ordered and which are operated by SkyWest.

The new aircraft have been earmarked to replace the Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 turbo prop fleet currently operated for United Express by Republic Airlines, another Republic Airways subsidiary. There will also be a displacement or retirement of some other “older, less-efficient aircraft” as part of the move, though details on that are unclear. Most likely this means the retirement of some 50-seat regional jets as well but United did not clarify that in the release.

For the regional operators this potentially means the retirement of the Q400 fleet in the United States. United is currently the only operator of the type and it is unlikely that others will choose to add them to the fleet. This is likely the end of independent regional operations for the Q400 in the United States. Horizon operates them for Alaska Airlines as a wholly owned subsidiary under the same parent organization. United’s Q400 fleet came in from the Continental side of the merger and allowed larger aircraft on some routes operated by regional carriers but not violating the pilot scope clause for Continental. With the new combined pilot contract the scope clause allows for more of the larger jets, making the Q4s less desirable in the fleet. They are still more efficient than the E75s over shorter distances but United has been stretching the definition of “regional” when it comes to regional jet flying and having more of the larger jets available will better serve those plans.

As a passenger I don’t really mind the Q4s much but the larger E-Jets are some of my favorite on which to fly. I’m definitely a fan of this move from a passenger comfort perspective, even if United has not yet committed to upgrading the in-flight service levels on the smaller jets. Yes, meals are coming in first class on some routes starting next year but other amenities remain relatively behind comparable sized aircraft and routes for other major carriers in the region. Still plenty of room to improve but this is a step forward.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


    1. Yeah…I fixed that. I was really thinking of it as regional operations more than everyone and Horizon is a wholly owned sister-company to AS, not quite the same as the contracted/outsourced model from the legacies.

      Teaches me to write on so little sleep. 🙁

  1. To bad Republic pilots only make $25, 000 a year. Only reason why they were awarded these planes were undercutting the rest of the regionals to get the contract. Remember this next time you fly on one of these 175’s. They can’t even staff their current fleet with it’s compensation level. Republic cancels flights at greater rates then other regionals. Not sure how they will be able to recruit for these additional planes.

  2. It would be fantastic if they could configure these E75s with wifi. Is that on the roadmap at all?

  3. I like the E75s, nice planes. I hope the Devil’s Chariot (CRJ-200s) will be among the first to be retired.

  4. I prefer the E190s and 195s more than the 175s.
    May be just imagination of better ride.

    UA may have been better off using the 190s and 195s as “mainline regionals” for the longterm and standardizing their fleet.
    AFAIK, the 190/195s are almost the old MD80s in capacity.
    I wonder how they behave at high altitude airports.

    DL went with 717s I think to help at SLC
    Also the 757s will be really missed when they are gone.
    Great planes, with huge number of F class for upgrades.
    I flew one back from MAN and it was fine (though not a 747 / A380)

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