United Airlines' pilot unions have cleared the way for Atlantic Coast Airlines (ACA) to launch United Express services with its Bombardier Canadair Regional Jets (CRJ).

The regional airline began a United Express regional-jet service between Washington's Dulles International to two Florida points, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham, in late November. The move has been made possible by United pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), voting to allow ACA to operate 50-seat regional jets, making it the first United Express carrier to inaugurate regional-jet services.

ACA received its first two CRJs in July, and was planning to have them flying in early September. ALPA opposition delayed start-up of the scheduled CRJ service, and the United Express feeder said that it would launch an independent Atlantic Coast jet-aircraft operation if necessary.

In August, United said that it would reimburse aircraft-lease and flight-crew costs for ACA CRJs until the end of 1997 to allow time for more talks with pilots. ACA then agreed to limit CRJ usage to charter flights until December, pending settlement of the labour issue.

Bombardier has delivered four of 12 CRJs ordered by ACA, which will receive eight more in 1998.

Source: Flight International