Atlantic Coast Airlines (ACA) has firmed up its order for 30 more Bombardier CRJ200s and is expected to confirm the purchase of a similar number of Fairchild Dornier 328JETs, following a long awaited agreement with United Airlines to more than double its regional jet fleet over the next three years.

The deal confirms a conditional order for more CRJ200s placed in August by parent company ACA Holdings, after Fairchild dropped the 428JET programme. The Washington Dulles-based United Express operation had planned to buy 30 of the 44-seaters, and 25 smaller 328JETS plus 55 options.

ACA has been allocated 62 additional RJs by United, increasing its fleet to 108 by late 2003. It is expected to fill the remaining 32 positions with 328JETS as part of a revised deal being finalised with Fairchild. The airline operates 34 CRJ-200s and has 12 on order.

United's deal with ACA follows ratification by its pilot union of a new RJ scope clause allowing United Express to replace 150 turboprops with jets. Disposing of its 32 BAe J41 turboprops could be problematic because many of them are on long-term leases from BAE Systems and banks, neither of which are keen to see the market flooded with turboprops.

United is now left to finalise an agreement with its two other Express feeder operators Air Wisconsin and SkyWest on the allocation of the remaining 88 RJs.

Source: Flight International