Is This The End Of American’s 50-Seaters In New York?

American Eagle regional carrier Envoy Air is permanently closing its bases at two of New York City’s main airports that have been shut since March. The closures come just about two months after American Airlines and JetBlue launched a new partnership in the northeastern United States. Here’s what this could mean for travelers.

Envoy E140
American Eagle is moving away from 50-seaters in New York, is this the start? Photo: Envoy Air

The base closures

Reuters reports that Envoy Air is shutting its bases at New York LaGuardia (LGA) and John F. Kennedy (JFK) airports. The base closures will impact flight crew and maintenance teams in New York City. However, the bases have already been closed since March due to the ongoing crisis. It is not currently clear whether any jobs are at risk nor what the broader impact of this is for American Eagle operations.

An American Eagle (Envoy Air) Embraer ERJ-145LR lands at
American Airlines uses Envoy as a regional carrier to feed its mainline operations. Photo: Getty Images

However, there could be some good news hidden in this announcement for passengers.

The end of 50-seater regional jets?

Back in July, American made waves when it announced a new partnership with JetBlue impacting operations in the northeastern United States. Explaining why the collaboration with JetBlue made sense, American highlighted that it was flying 50-seater regional in some of the most expensive airports in the world.

Moreover, these planes were flying to some important destinations. For example, the ERJ140s and 145s flew to cities such as Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Nashville, Raleigh, Richmond, Montreal, Toronto, and others. Out of New York-JFK, especially, American mainly used these regional jets to funnel passengers to its long-haul network, particularly on transatlantic flights, with some connecting onwards to domestic destinations.

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Instead of using up slots with ERJs, American could fly widebodies on long-haul segments with feed coming from JetBlue’s network. Photo: Getty Images

JetBlue has a much larger presence at JFK and can easily take over many of these routes once operated by American Eagle. JetBlue’s routes will still provide feed to American’s network, while also upgrading the passenger experience thanks to larger aircraft with more overhead bin space and adding another domestic hub for connections.

American has been moving away from 50-seat jets in recent years. Some of these aircraft were already slated for retirement, with some accelerated in recent months. Regionally, American has instead focused on growing its flying of 76-seater Embraer E175s. These jets offer a much better passenger experience and have a premium cabin onboard.

American Eagle retirement
American Airlines has already been moving away from smaller regional jets. Photo: Getty Images

Now, a base closure does not entirely mean the end of all operations of a specific type of plane in a city. Depending on how Envoy’s staffing works out, it is very much possible that, from other bases, Envoy will still fly in these 50-seaters on behalf of American Airlines. Especially out of LaGuardia, which has a perimeter rule in place, limiting where airlines can fly out of the airport, American Airlines will likely still be flying in some 50-seaters. However, hopefully, out of New York-JFK, there will be fewer of those going in and out of the airport.

Envoy Air

Envoy Air is one of American’s wholly-owned regional carriers. On behalf of American Airlines, under the airline’s American Eagle regional brand, the airline flies Embraer ERJ140, ERJ145, and E175 aircraft.

Getty Embraer ERJ-175 American Airlines American Eagle
American Airlines will still be flying some regional jets into New York, though hopefully more of the larger E175s. Photo: Getty Images

The ERJ140s seat 44, while the ERJ145s have 50 seats onboard. Neither have first class, but you can find extra-legroom coach seats onboard. Both of those planes are outfitted in a 1-2 configuration.

Do you think American should cease flying 50-seater jets into New York? Let us know in the comments!