SkyWest plans to add 24 E-175s to fleet in 2014

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Utah-based SkyWest Airlines will take delivery of 24 Embraer 175s in 2014, as it continues to shift towards a fleet of larger regional aircraft.

The first aircraft will be delivered during the week of 24 March and enter service with United Airlines in late May, says SkyWest Inc president Brad Rich during an earnings call today.

“We’re very encouraged, we’re on plan,” he says on the E-175 additions.

SkyWest expects United to announce the first routes for the aircraft during the week of 17 February, adds Rich.

The regional carrier will take delivery of 40 E-175s by the end of 2015. All of the aircraft will operate as part of United Express.

SkyWest Inc’s fleet will shrink by about 35 aircraft in 2014. It plans to remove 59 50-seat regional jets, including 29 Bombardier CRJ200s at Delta Air Lines and 25 Embraer ERJ-145s at United.

The Delta aircraft are part of an agreement that the carriers reached in 2012, where SkyWest agreed to remove 66 50-seat aircraft and add 34 76-seat regional jets. The last larger aircraft were added in 2013 while the final four 50-seaters will exit the fleet in 2015, says Mike Kraupp, chief financial officer of SkyWest Inc, during the call.

The United aircraft will exit the fleet as their contracts expire “naturally” during 2014, says Rich. They are operated by SkyWest subsidiary ExpressJet.

SkyWest will incur “some small level of cost” associated with the removal of 50-seat aircraft but it does not expect these to be material, executives say during the call.

The airline anticipates a fleet of 725 aircraft at the end of 2014, including 452 50-seat regional jets, 228 66- to 76-seat jets and 45 Embraer 120 Brasilias.