SkyWest confident in 50-seater prospects

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US regional carrier SkyWest believes there is still a market for the 50-seater aircraft in its fleet, despite plans by its partner Delta Air Lines to replace these aircraft with more efficient jets.

SkyWest views the 50-seat jet market "a little differently" from other regional carriers, says its president Brad Rich today in an earnings call.

"We are doing whatever we can, however we can, to find creative ways to use that fleet," says Rich, adding that this could involve putting the aircraft on pro-rate flying or on "very selective markets".

Delta said recently it is studying aircraft types like the Boeing 717 and Airbus A319 to replace most of the 50-seat regional jets being operated under capacity purchase agreements, which have become less efficient as fuel prices soar.

US regional carrier Republic Airways Holdings, which also operates Embraer ERJ145s for Delta amongst other US mainline carriers, is seeking to restructure its costs with its 50-seat jet operations.

SkyWest's Rich reiterates that SkyWest's overall goal is to meet the needs of its partners, but he says the airline believes there will still be a need for 50-seater aircraft in the market.

"We will continue to work aggressively on our cost structure to make sure that that fleet creates value," says Rich.