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United Plans to Cut ExpressJet or CommutAir from Regional Network

United Plans to Cut ExpressJet or CommutAir from Regional Network
Joe Cortez

One of two regional feeder airlines working exclusively for United Airlines will soon be cut from the carrier’s network. In separate letters, the Chicago-based airline informed both ExpressJet and CommutAir they would end their contract with one of them.

Two regional airlines are now in the fight for their lives, after their only contract informed them one will be dropped from their network. In separate letters, Reuters reports both CommutAir and ExpressJet were notified only one will remain a partner with United Airlines.

United Cuts Will Make Them “A Smaller Airline” Post COVID-19

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, United was one of several airlines expanding their footprint across the United States. Much of the growth was through smaller regional airlines operating under the brand name of a mainline carrier. ExpressJet and CommutAir were both part of that growth, operating regional jets feeding into United hubs, operating as United Express.

Despite holding a minority stake in both carriers, United is now trimming their network in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through letters from unions acquired by Reuters, employees of both airlines are learning that their time as part of the United network could be numbered.

“We’ve been clear for months now that we expect to be a smaller airline in response to the historic impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our business,” a spokesperson for United told Reuters when asked about the plans. “That means we’ve cut our schedules and our costs across the operation – and we do anticipate it will continue to impact the relationships we have with our regional partners.”

ExpressJet Holds Advantage in Staff, Fleet

As both airlines are asked to reconsider their business plan to stay part of the United network, ExpressJet holds a slight advantage over CommutAir. Formerly a subsidiary of SkyWest Airlines, ExpressJet currently has a fleet of 95 aircraft, along with a senior staff to match.

United has not tipped their hand as to which airline will continue with a contract as the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end, nor have they indicated which routes could be contracted as a result. But the loss of one regional carrier moves in-line with United’s planned staff cuts. In July 2020, the Chicago-based carrier sent furlough notices to 36,000 employees, citing the need to reduce staff once they are allowed to by the CARES Act.

View Comments (2)

2 Comments

  1. Falconkidding

    July 28, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    Lol senior staff is not an advantage when that senior staff is topped out on payscales. Fleet size also doesnt matter cause they are all UALs aircraft. Also xjt with higher overhead due to size. Its weird being in the industry what ppl write about it.

  2. Prof_Dr_G

    August 3, 2020 at 9:39 am

    I got a better idea. Drop UA and retain the two smaller airlines.

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