SkyWest well-positioned for United E-175 flying, says president

Washington DC
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SkyWest Inc. is well-positioned to bid on flying contracts related to United Airlines' recent order for up to 70 Embraer 175s, the carrier's president says.

Speaking on an 8 May earnings call, Bradford Rich says the company's regional carriers SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet would be interested in operating the large regional jets despite the fact that the airlines do not have an operating certificate yet for the aircraft type.

"If that's the type of aircraft that they want to operate, then we are prepared and ready to take the aircraft and put it on certificate," says Rich.

United has made firm orders for 30 E-175s to be delivered from 2014, with options for up to 40 more. The carrier told Flightglobal that it has chosen the improved E-175 Plus option for all of the orders.

Rich says he thinks there is an opportunity for more flying than just those initial firm orders.

"I think we would all agree they need more than 30 large regional jets in their fleet," he says.

SkyWest said on 14 February that it saw a demand for E-jet flying at major airlines, and estimated it would take six months to a year to add the Embraer E-jet to its operating certificate from that time.

Rich says that there is a "significant amount of activity going on in the industry" in the regional space and that the carrier is working "aggressively" with its major aircraft partners to meet the needs of major airlines undergoing transformations of their regional fleets.

"We're working with aircraft and airframe manufacturers, we're working with engine manufacturers, we're working with employee groups," he said. A majority of the aircraft under regional contracts in SkyWest and ExpressJet's fleets are operated for United Express. The carrier flew 445 Bombardier CRJ200s, 70 CRJ700s 242 Embraer ERJ-145s and 34 Embraer 120s for the carrier at the end of 2012.