American Airlines debuted its new Embraer 175 at Chicago O'Hare today, as it preps for entry-into-service on 1 August.
The 76-seat regional jet is part of the Fort Worth-based Oneworld alliance member's strategy to "right size" the aircraft in its fleet, says Charles Shubert, vice-president of network planning at American, at an open house in Chicago today. Something that it hopes to achieve with the E-175s as well as new Airbus A319s and A321s that it has on order.
The aircraft will allow American to better optimise its domestic schedules by increasing the number of large regional jets in its fleet and providing it with a variant between its 65-seat Bombardier CRJ700s and 128-seat A319s, the latter of which enters service on 16 September.
"We wanted to try to close the gap as best we could, as quick as we could," says Schubert on the airline's decision to contract Republic Airlines to fly the E-175s under a 12-year capacity purchase agreement.
The Indianapolis-based regional carrier, which already operates the E-175s for Delta Air Lines and US Airways, was able to acquire and place the type into service with American much faster then the mainline carrier's American Eagle subsidiary could have itself due to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification and training that would have been required.
American and Republic announced the order for 47 aircraft in January with the type now entering service just seven months later.
American will launch service on the E-175s to Albuquerque, New Orleans and Pittsburgh from Chicago on 1 August, with Kansas City, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Toronto Pearson and Washington National joining the roster on 27 August.
Flights will be added to Houston Intercontinental, Newark, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and San Antonio on 1 October.
Additional E-175 destinations are likely to be added in American's next large schedule update, which is due in August.
Schubert says that all of the aircraft will be based at O'Hare for the "foreseeable future" where they will largely - but not exclusively - replace CRJ700s and Embraer 140/145s. He adds that neither of the smaller regional jets will disappear from Chicago anytime soon.
American plans to take delivery of between two to three per month from the Brazilian OEM and have 15 in its fleet by the end of the year. The last aircraft is due during the first quarter of 2015.
Republic will base crews and maintain the E-175s in Pittsburgh, where it has an existing crew base and maintenance facility.
The E-175s are outfitted with 12 first class, 20 main cabin extra - American's premium economy additional legroom seat - and 44 economy seats. There are electrical outlets at each seat in first class and at each pair of two seats in the economy cabin.
Zodiac is supplying the economy seats.
American is in the process of certifying the E-175s for Gogo inflight wi-fi, says Brady Byrnes, manager of design and onboard products at the airline.