A former Air France Hop Bombardier CRJ700 arrived in Tucson, Arizona, on Thursday after making a nearly 6,000-mile journey from Lille in France. The 70-seat twin-engine regional jet began its journey across the Atlantic Ocean from Lille Airport (LIL) on January 26. Along the way, it made stops at Keflavík International Airport (KEF) in Iceland, Goose Bay Airport (YYR) in Canada, General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before finally arriving at Tucson International Airport (TUS) in Arizona.
The nearly 19-year-old CRJ700 registration number F-GRZF had, according to aviation enthusiast website Planespotters.net, been taken out of service by Air France in December while waiting to join SkyWest Airlines in January 2021. The plane was flown to the Desert Southwest because its new owner SkyWest Airlines has a maintenance base at Tucson International Airport, where it also provides regional flights for United Express.
About the Bombardier CRJ700
The Bombardier CRJ700 is a member of the Canadian-built Bombardier CRJ family of aircraft along with the CRJ900 and CRJ1000. The design of the plane was derived from the smaller CRJ100 and 200 airliners.
🇫🇷 Après un très long voyage de Lille à Tucson en passant par Reykjavik, Goose Bay & Milwaukee, un ex CRJ7 d’Hop! va rejoindre sa nouvelle famille : SkyWest ! pic.twitter.com/onY95ms4yH
— air plus news (@airplusnews) January 30, 2021
The CRJ700 made its maiden flight in 1999 and was soon followed by a stretched version called the CRJ900, which offered a further 20 seats. While the smaller CRJ100 and CRJ200 planes were discontinued in 2006, the larger versions continued to be built into the 2010s.
Japanese corporation Mitsubishi Heavy Industries finalized a deal to purchase Bombardier last summer. Mitsubishi says that it will not build any more CRJ aircraft but will continue to manufacture parts for CRJ operators while it focuses on its SpaceJet aircraft.
Air France created HOP! to thwart European low-cost carriers after seeing them cut into what were some of the French national flag carrier’s most profitable domestic routes. To create HOP!, Air France merged Régional Compagnie Aérienne Européenne, Brit Air, and Airlinair, giving HOP! a fleet of 107 aircraft.
In 2018, HOP! was restructured, merging all flights under Air France’s AF flight code before announcing a year later that HOP! would now be called “Air France Hop.” In December 2020, Air France announced that it was getting rid of the name “Air France Hop” and repainting the fleet in the Air France livery. The plan would also see its Paris Orly hub transferred to Transavia France and all of its Bombardier CRJ aircraft retired.
Headquartered in St. George, Utah, SkyWest Airlines is the largest regional airline in North America, operating an average of more than 2,400 flights per day to 250 cities in the United States, Canada, Mexico. SkyWest Airlines might not seem so familiar a name because it operates regional feeder flights on behalf of major airlines. Operating under the name Delta Connect, American Eagle, United Express, and Alaska SkyWest SkyWest Airlines operated the following number of flights before the current COVID-19 global pandemic:
- Delta Air Lines 1050 flights per day
- United Airlines 900 flights per day
- American Airlines 370 flights per day
- Alaska Airlines 160 flights per day
According to Planspotters.net, SkyWest Airlines fleet is made up of the following aircraft:
- 200 x Bombardier CRJ-200s
- 113 x Bombardier CRJ-700s
- 43 x Bombardier CRJ-900s
- 193 x Embraer ERJ-175s
As you can see from the above list, the CRJ family of aircraft plays a big role in the SkyWest Airlines fleet. The new aircraft they are receiving from Air France probably arrived for a bargain price as other operators look to retire many of their older regional jets.
What do you think about SkyWest Airlines acquiring older CRJ700 aircraft? Please tell us what you think in the comments.