Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings is purchasing 47 new Embraer 175 aircraft after reaching a 12-year agreement with American Airlines to fly 53 of the type for the latter's regional carrier American Eagle.

The deal, which includes 47 options, will see aircraft deliveries starting in 2013, and relieves Embraer of the prospect of a production break later this year by reloading its backlog. Republic expects the new twinjets to be phased in to its fleet at a rate of two to three aircraft per month, with deliveries running until the first quarter of 2015.

Under the agreement, Republic will fly the new aircraft and also lease a previously-owned E-175. It is also adding five additional second-hand regional jets to the fleet to satisfy the new flying agreement.

The 76-seat jets will begin to enter Republic's fleet at a rate of two to three aircraft per month starting in mid-2013. Republic will continue to take deliveries of the E-175s until the first quarter of 2015.

The aircraft will be laid out in a two-class configuration with 12 first-class seats and 64 main-cabin seats.

Republic's regional service for American Eagle will start in June 2013 under a capacity purchase deal subject to approval by a US bankruptcy court. The is American's first flying agreement that includes large regional jets, a change made possible by a new pilot contract reached in late 2012.

"This is a significant milestone in our company's history," says Chuck Schubert, vice-president, network planning at American. "Establishing a large regional jet fleet has long been part of our business plan and this agreement is another example of how we are executing on that plan in a way that benefits our business and our customers. We will offer more flights at the right intervals throughout the day in key markets while providing more opportunities for customers to travel in the first-class cabin to key business markets."

"We are thrilled that American has selected Republic and the Embraer E-175 to expand its network with large regional jets," says Republic chief executive Bryan Bedford. "The Embraer E-175 is an outstanding aircraft and the interior design American has selected will provide a world-class, seamless product for their customers flying on Republic."

Republic's Chautauqua now operates flights out of Chicago O'Hare for American with 15 Embraer ERJ-140s.

Flightglobal reported in November 2012 that AMR was in discussions with Embraer for a large regional jet order, and the Brazilian airframer said in mid-December it expected to receive a request for proposals from AMR in the "coming weeks" for several regional jets.

American's pilots ratified a tentative agreement in December that allowed the carrier to increase the number of 66-76 seat regional aircraft it operates to 25% of its total fleet.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news