United has come to a new agreement with one of its regional carriers regarding its operations for the carrier. Mesa Airlines will solely operate the Embraer E175 for United after the change is complete.
Mesa will take delivery of 20 additional Embraer E175 aircraft, bringing the total up to 80 E175s operated for United. These aircraft operate out of United’s hubs in Houston and Washington D.C.
The regional carrier will not be gaining any aircraft, as the 20 Bombardier CRJ700 aircraft it currently operates out of Washington will be converted to 50 seat CRJ 550 aircraft, and be transferred to regional carrier GoJet.
Deliveries of the new E175 aircraft will begin in May and continue into the beginning of 2021.
The modification of the 20 CRJ 700 aircraft into CRJ 550 aircraft allows United to circumvent the scope clause it has with its mainline pilots. The scope clause puts a cap on the number of 70 or 76 seat regional jets that can be operated for United by regional carriers. By converting 20 70 seat CRJ 700 aircraft into 50 seat CRJ 550 aircraft, United can add 20 76 seat Embraer E175 aircraft without penalty.
To increase the number of large regional jets United can have in its express fleet, it would have to add a small mainline aircraft to the fleet such as the Airbus A220 or the Embraer E190/E195. Staffing these small mainline aircraft with mainline crews means that they would cost significantly more to operate than regional jets.