United considers all options in evolving its regional business

Washington DC
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Fresh from issuing a request for proposal (RFP) for some regional contracts that expire next year, United Airlines continues to explore all options to keep is Express operations a viable part of its business.

"Our regional flying continues to evolve with the industry itself", the carrier explains in an email. "And today we are looking at a very different business than even a year ago."

The carrier says it is pleased with pro-rate deals it brokered this year with SkyWest Airlines, Trans States and a short-term pro-rate arrangement with ExpressJet.

Under pro-rate agreements regional carriers assume more costs than what they would in more industry-standard capacity purchase agreements. Pro-rate deals also allow the two partners to negotiate a formula in which the regional carrier receives a portion of revenue both from the leg it operates, and the portion of an itinerary flown by its major partner.

Currently SkyWest is operating seven Bombardier CRJ200s for United in pro-rate deals. Some of the routes SkyWest began flying under the arrangement earlier this year include Denver-Milwaukee, San Francisco-Redmond, Oregon and Chicago-Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Two 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145s are covered under United's pro-rate deal with Trans States.

"We continue to look for more creative and innovative solutions," says United. "This is an opportunity for regional airlines and mainline carriers to work together to find the best way to operate profitably and still deliver a quality product to our customers."

United also highlights finding optimal ways to work with regional partners in many instances "involves things we would have not considered in the past".