Air Wisconsin, SkyWest and Mesa add capacity to network in return for cutting costs

United Express carrier Atlantic Coast Airlines (ACA) is actively seeking alternative mainline suitors, having failed to reach a new regional feeder agreement with United Airlines. Air Wisconsin and SkyWest have struck new deals with United to add more capacity to the United Express network, while Mesa Air has signed a memorandum to add 35 more regional jets.

ACA is the only current United Express operator that has not reached an agreement to lower costs in return for firming up extra delivery positions, despite the carrier having extracted contract concessions from its pilots. "The company continues to develop contingency plans to allow it to establish an alternative to the United business," says the carrier.

ACA is the largest of the three United Express operators, generating 600 flights day from Chicago and Washington DC and operating a fleet of 85 Bombardier CRJ200s, with a further 36 on order, and 30 BAe Jetstream 41 turboprops. Alternatives include finding an another major carrier with which to partner, flying as a standalone carrier or expanding its Delta Connection business with Delta Air Lines. ACA flies 33 Fairchild Dornier 328JETs for Delta on the US East Coast.

Observers suggest that an eventual agreement between United and ACA is likely. The memorandum with Mesa includes 35 regional jets, including 20 70-seaters, but no location has yet been disclosed. Air Wisconsin, in return for cutting costs, has a deal in confirming delivery of its final 20 of 51 CRJ200s on firm order, while SkyWest has an agreement to add up to 30 larger 70-seat jets by 2005.

Source: Flight International