United To Cut Ties With World’s Largest E145 Operator Expressjet

In another turn amid the global health crisis, United Airlines has this week confirmed that it is ending its Embraer E145 partnership with ExpressJet Airlines. The carrier will consolidate its operations with the 50-seater jet with CommutAir.

United ExpressJet E145
ExpressJet has a total of 77 Embraer E175 aircraft in its fleet. 35 of these jets are parked due to the pandemic. Photo: United Airlines

Streamlining the approach

The Points Guy highlights that currently, CommutAir flies 37 ERJ-145s and ExpressJet 97 ERJ-145s for United. However, some of these jets are stored due to the downturn in passenger activity. The plane is useful on regional and local routes across the United States.

Simple Flying reached out to United for comment on the situation. A spokesperson shared that the company has been communicating for several months that it expects to be a smaller airline in response to the unprecedented impact that COVID-19 has had.

In February, the business took its first step to simplify its partner landscape and consolidate its E145 flying. Subsequently, it took further steps to simplify its operation and right size its capacity for the future. This Embraer transition will take a number of months.

Concern for pilots

Joe Mauro, chairman of the ExpressJet Airlines Master Executive Council (XJT MEC) of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), spoke about how critical this move is. According to a press release seen by Simple Flying, the Chicago-based airline’s decision could leave several pilots frustrated.

ExpressJet pilots
ExpressJet shares that it has a reputation for developing highly skilled and sought-after aviation professionals. Photo: ExpressJet

United purchased 49% of Express when Mana Air LLC bought the regional outfit from SkyWest Airlines in at the beginning of last year. Moreover, earlier this year, ExpressJet was positioned to be the foundation for United’s regional consolidation. Therefore, Mauro feels that this week’s decision is disappointing.

“The ExpressJet pilots have shown time and time again that we can adapt to changing circumstances, and this pandemic tested our resolve to take drastic steps to ensure our future,” Mauro said, as shared by ALPA.

“Regrettably, our efforts were not enough. Unfortunately, when cost is the only focus, the years of dedication by this pilot group for our mainline partner are overlooked and discredited, and the human element is ignored.”

Tough times

This situation is yet another blow for ExpressJet in recent years. In August 2017, Delta Air Lines terminated its contract with the firm. Following this, in May 2018, American Airlines also ended its contract with the company. As a result, ExpressJet stopped operating American Eagle flights as of 2019.

An American Eagle (Envoy Air) Embraer ERJ-145LR lands at
American Airlines also partners with other carriers to operate several regional routes. Photo: Getty Images

Losing United as a partner puts ExpressJet in a troubling situation as the airline was its prime associate. Nonetheless, MEC and ALPA are ready to provide support to these crew members.

Altogether, the pandemic is continuing to rock the aviation industry from the bottom up. The change of climate is impacting all departments across the market.

Simple Flying reached out to United for comment on the situation with its Embraer E145 services. We will update the article with any further announcements.

What are your thoughts about United Airlines’ decision? Do you feel that this is a good move for the carrier? Let us know what you think in the comment section.