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ExpressJet To Fly 10 Planes for United This Summer

Remember how I said on Friday that regional carriers were having trouble placing their 50 seat jets? Apparently, that doesn't apply to ExpressJet. The airline will be putting 10 of its Embraer ERJ-145 aircraft into service with United this summer.

It's an interesting agreement in that it's not very short term (as they did during Spring Break for United last year), but it's not long term either. ExpressJet's Director of Communications Kristy Nicholas told me in an interview that the airline will start flying for United at the beginning of June and it will go through the summer until early September. There will be 10 aircraft dedicated to the operation during that time and they will fly primarily out of the Washington/Dulles and Chicago/O'Hare hubs.

The flying will be done under an ACMI lease (that's Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance), so it's effectively the same as the cost plus flying that has traditionally been done by regionals with their jets. These planes will actually be aircraft used in their charter division, since the rest are flying with Continental. It seemed like a very large chunk of airplanes to be devoting (a third of their fleet), but Kristy informed me that the summer is actually their slow charter season. They do a lot of college sports charters and those obviously aren't happening much when school is out.

Interesting, however, that SkyWest is doing prorate work beginning the same time this temporary gig starts for ExpressJet. So is this replacing some SkyWest flying? According to United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy, no.

United signed a short-term contract with ExpressJet Airlines to provide 10 Embraer ERJ145 aircraft for peak demand summer flying. ExpressJet approached United with the opportunity to operate flights with extremely competitive costs for flying we would not be able to provide for our customers otherwise.

This flying will have a minimal impact on our capacity for the year, representing an increase of less than one-tenth of one percent.

Sounds like a win-win for everyone here. United gets some cheap flying that can probably make them some money and ExpressJet gets to prevent their planes from sitting on the ground all summer.

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