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ExpressJet to stop flying for Delta

ExpressJet Airlines has announced a series of changes to contracts with major carriers, including termination of an agreement with Delta Air Lines and expanded deals with United Airlines and American Airlines.

The company describes the changes in a media release as a "contract realignment" that will provide ExpressJet with a "clearly-defined long-term strategy".

ExpressJet, a division of St George, Utah-based SkyWest Inc, will terminate early an agreement under which it operates 61 two-class aircraft for Delta.

Those aircraft include 33 Bombardier CRJ700s and 28 CRJ900s, according to SkyWest.

The agreement had been scheduled to expire at the beginning of 2019.

Under the revised deal, in the fourth quarter of 2017 ExpressJet will begin returning all 28 CRJ900s to Delta, which owns the aircraft, ExpressJet says.

"ExpressJet expects to transition other aircraft previously operated under its Delta agreement to other major partners throughout 2018," adds ExpressJet in the release.

ExpressJet also operates 23 CRJ200s for Delta, but already announced plans to remove those aircraft from Delta service by the end of the year.

At the same time, ExpressJet announces it has extended by five years an agreement under which it operates Embraer 145s for United Airlines.

The extension runs from January 2018 until the end of 2022, says ExpressJet's media release.

ExpressJet operates 119 ERJ145s and five ERJ135s for United, according to financial filings.

It also announces it reached an agreement with American to operate an additional eight CRJ700s under the American Eagle brand.

ExpressJet will transition the CRJ700s into American's operation in the second quarter of 2018, ExpressJet says.

The regional airline already operates two CRJ200s and 12 CRJ700s for American, financial filings show.

SkyWest chief executive Chip Childs says in a media release that the changes will place ExpressJet on a path toward "long-term success and profitability".

SkyWest, which also owns SkyWest Airlines, in recent years has worked to restructure the fleet of ExpressJet to include fewer aircraft with 50 seats or fewer.

"The long term success of ExpressJet requires significant change as we make progress for a smaller, more-efficient and productive airline," Childs said during SkyWest's second quarter earnings call on 27 July. "We are increasingly optimistic about that progress."

At the end of June, ExpressJet operated about 220 aircraft, including a mix of 149 small regional jets, comprising CRJ200s, ERJ135s and ERJ145s, financial filings show.

One year earlier, ExpressJet operated 296 aircraft, including 230 small regional jets.

SkyWest earned profits before taxes of $80.9 million in the second quarter of 2017, up 22% year-over-year.

The SkyWest Airlines unit generated $71.3 million in profits during the period, but ExpressJet lost $4.1 million, financial reports show.

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