SkyWest targets additional American flying

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Utah-based regional SkyWest Airlines hopes to capture some additional regional flying with American Airlines, as the mainline carriers aims to upgauge its feeder fleet.

"We think there will be a meaningful regional, a large dual-class opportunity there for someone," says Brad Rich, chairman and chief executive of SkyWest, during an earnings call on 7 August. "We are doing our best to position ourselves to win and be awarded a portion of that flying."

He cautions that he has no clarity on the timing of such a decision.

SkyWest has a conditional order for 60 Embraer 175s as well as options for an additional 100 of the variant that it placed with the OEM in May. These aircraft would fit American's plans for additional 76-seat lift in its regional fleet.

American, which is seeking to merge with US Airways by the end of the quarter, introduced its first of 47 E-175s operated by Republic Airlines at its Chicago O'Hare hub on 1 August. The deal includes options for another 47 aircraft.

Republic and Trans States-subsidiary Compass Airlines are seen as possible competitors for the additional flying for the Fort Worth-based mainline carrier.

American is also in talks with both Bombardier and Embraer regarding an order for either the CRJ900 or E-175. It has not commented on the timeline of that order though a deal is expected before the end of the year at the latest.

SkyWest announced its first contract with American in September 2012. The deal included 23 50-seat regional jets operated by both its SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines subsidiaries based at Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth.