SkyWest plans to add more than three dozen 76-seat aircraft to its Delta Connection service and remove nearly twice that number of 50-seaters as a nod to ’ push for higher-capacity aircraft among its regional partners.
SkyWest, the parent company of SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines, will take on 34 aircraft—fiveand 29 CRJ900s—and shed 66 of its CRJ200s under an “understanding” reached with Delta. SkyWest will take delivery of the new aircraft between August 2012 and June 2013 for Delta Connection service and remove the CRJ200s between August 2012 and December 2015.
Of the 66 CRJ200s, 41 are Delta-financed aircraft and are scheduled to be returned to Delta without obligation to SkyWest, the Utah-based company says.
Of the 34 larger regional jets that SkyWest is adding to its Delta Connection operations, Delta says 18 will come from Delta regional subsidiary Comair, which is being shut down as of Sept. 29. Comair currently operates 15 CRJ700s and 13 CRJ900s.
The other 16 will come from Pinnacle, Delta says. Pinnacle, which is restructuring under Chapter 11 with Delta financing, operates 16 CRJ900s for Delta that are scheduled to be removed from service between January and May 2013; it also has a long-term deal to continue operating 41 other CRJ900s for Delta.
SkyWest CFO Michael Kraupp tells Aviation Week that SkyWest continues to determine its plans for the new aircraft—whether to take over existing financing, sublease them or pursue other actions.
The deal comes weeks after SkyWest expressed resistance to Delta’s plan to encourage its regional airline partners to end their 50-seat regional jet flying before feeder contracts expire. Kraupp told Aviation Week at the time that such an offer would not be acceptable unless an alternative were provided for the CRJ200s. He now says SkyWest is receptive to the deal because 41 of the 50-seaters belong to Delta and he is confident that SkyWest can place its 25 50-seaters “based on opportunities that we are working.” He says SkyWest will not have to park any of the aircraft.