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United Terminates Contract With Regional Airline ExpressJet Putting Thousands of Job at Risk

United Terminates Contract With Regional Airline ExpressJet Putting Thousands of Job at Risk

United Airlines has terminated its contract with one of two regional ERJ jet operators in a move that could lead to the collapse of the beleaguered carrier and put thousands of employees at risk of losing their jobs. Houston-based ExpressJet operates around 3,300 regional flights per week on behalf of United Express using a fleet of 50-seater Embraer jets. United Airlines was ExpressJet’s sole customer.

In an internal memo, United Airlines told staffers on Thursday that it would consolidate all regional ERJ operations with ExpressJet’s regional rival CommutAir. “We have been communicating for several months that we expect to be a smaller airline in response to the unprecedented impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our business,” the memo explained to justify the decision.

United said the change would take “a number of months” to implement but ExpressJet chief executive Subodh Karnik told employees that the carrier would have to start to wind down operations. According to ExpressJet, the carrier currently employs around 3,000 flight attendants, pilots and other employees.

“Over the years, our employees have demonstrated the ability to run a high-performance, efficient, and nimble airline – one that has, on multiple occasions, quickly adjusted to the needs of its major airline customer,” ExpressJet said in a statement.

“We will now explore all options for the future of our company in 2021, while we expect to continue normal operations through the rest of this year.”

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) branded the decision “extremely disappointing” and said, “when cost is the only focus, the years of dedication by this pilot group for our mainline partner are overlooked and discredited, and the human element is ignored”.

Only a few months ago, ExpressJet had announced plans to expand its fleet with the addition of 36 by early 2021. In February, vice president of flight operations, Scott Hall said ExpressJet continued to experience “massive growth” as it offered a $40,000 bonus for new Captain’s to join the airline.

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