In 2020, 48% of passengers who flew on American Eagle connected to or from a mainline flight. Higher than 2019, this represents the dual importance of American’s regional partners. Especially with the crisis that decimated travel, American relied heavily on its main connecting hubs to keep its planes full and stem the losses.
American Airlines sees higher connectivity from regional partners
In 2020, around 30 million passengers flew on an American Eagle flight. Of those, approximately 48%, or around 14.5 million, connected to or from a mainline American Airlines flight.
In 2019, around 59 million passengers flew on a regional partner under the American Eagle brand. Approximately 43% of those passengers connected to or from a mainline flight.
Year-over-year, this was a roughly 5% increase in the number of passengers who connected. Still, the overall number of passengers who connected to or from a regional flight declined, largely due to the crisis.
American Airlines had a fleet of 544 aircraft flying under capacity purchase agreements with regional carriers. This includes SkyWest, Piedmont, Mesa, Republic, and Envoy.
The largest regional jet flown under American Eagle are the CRJ900s, which have an average seating capacity of 77 per American Airlines. The Embraer E175s have an average seating capacity of 76, while the CRJ700s have an average seating capacity of 65.
The smallest jets for American’s regional fleet are Embraer ERJ140s and Embraer ERJ145s. The ERJ140s seat an average of 44 passengers, though American Airlines is doing away with these jets. The ERJ145s seat 50 passengers.
The historical percentages
For the past five years, the percentage is as follows:
- 2020: 48% of 30 million
- 2019: 43% of 59 million
- 2018: 44% of 56 million
- 2017: 44% of 55 million
- 2016: 44% of 54 million
As you can, the percentage of American Eagle passengers connecting to or from an American mainline flight has been pretty stagnant. However, the absolute number has increased as American was able to grow the number of regional passengers it flew.
The importance of a regional feed
Regional connections are essential for American Airlines. The regional partners American has generally allowed the airline to serve smaller secondary destinations across the US and some international destinations where it could not fill up a larger mainline jet profitably.
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However, the regional carriers also serve another purpose. On some routes, the regional operation serves high-frequency short-haul routes between major cities. This includes flights between cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles or Atlanta and Charlotte.
For example, in early 2020, American Airlines hit 700 daily departures out of Charlotte, one of its most important core hubs. Roughly 54% of those flights were served through American Eagle, which was around 380 daily departures– a significant number.
The remaining percentage is not all point-to-point
While it may be tempting to say that 52%+ of American Eagle passengers flew nonstop, and indeed that number is higher for hubs like Washington D.C., the remaining 52% also includes passenger counts for those who flew entirely regional jet itineraries.
Take, for example, people flying connecting itineraries between Savannah and Cleveland or Roswell to Panama City (Florida), or Bismarck to Palm Springs, among a large number of others.
Then, there are also passengers who flew a regional jet, say from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, and then connect onwards on a partner airline, such as from Los Angeles to Tokyo.
Did you fly American Eagle in 2020 and connect to or from an American Airlines mainline flight? Are you surprised at this percentage? Let us know in the comments!