Chautauqua Airlines, the operator of the 800th ERJ-145 family aircraft, is a steadily growing Republic Airways Holdings company formed in 1973 and originally operating as an Allegheny Commuter with two Beech 99s. Republic Airways, in turn, is owned by investment funds organised and managed by Wexford Capital, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based investment advisor which took over the concern in 1998. Other than American Eagle, Chautauqua is the only operator of all three ERJ variants including the ERJ -135, -140 and -145, the first of which were ordered in 1999. Chautauqua operates 86 ERJs including 56 -145s, 15 -140s and 15 -135s, and is to take a further 15 -145LRs between now and September 2005.

Chautauqua's ERJ fleet therefore represents more than 10% of the total world fleet (including military and corporate versions), and slightly more than 16% of the entire US commercially operated ERJ fleet, now numbering almost 550. According to Embraer's recent figures, US operators accounted for around 380 of the 546 -145s delivered, all 74 of the -140s delivered and around 85 of the 105 -135s handed over to date.

More than 500 flights a day are operated under Chautauqua's major airline partner brands, including AmericanConnection, Delta Connection and US Airways Express and, from July, United Express. Unlike the existing operations, Chautauqua and the holding company's other regional airline, Republic Airlines, will operate 70-seater Embraer 170s initially on United Express routes from Indianapolis to Washington Dulles and Chicago O'Hare. First significant details of the Embraer 170 deal emerged in March, when Republic announced orders and options for up to 50 aircraft valued at around $1.25 billion. The package included 13 aircraft on firm order plus a further three "based on acceptable financing". It also includes options on another 34, the first of which could be firmed up later this year. Republic, which aims to begin operations for United Express in August, also has the right to change its options to the 175, 190 or 195 models.

Source: Flight International