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ExpressJet’s Sole Contract with United Airlines Will End On September 30; Majority of Employees to be Laid Off

ExpressJet’s Sole Contract with United Airlines Will End On September 30; Majority of Employees to be Laid Off

Houston-based ExpressJet, which operates regional ERJ jet flights on behalf of United Airlines will wind up operations much earlier than originally expected after United terminated its contract with the airline. Last month, United said it would consolidate all regional ERJ operations with ExpressJet’s regional rival CommutAir in a move that put the very future of ExpressJet in doubt.

ExpressJet and United claimed the process of winding up operations would take many months to complete but the carrier is now planning on ending the contract on September 30. With no other contracts in the pipeline and the COVID-19 pandemic battering passenger demand, ExpressJet expects to lay-off or furlough the majority of its staff.

“Due to the uncertainty of airline passenger travel as a result of the continuing pandemic, all ExpressJet flying for United Airlines will end on September 30, 2020,” the airline told in an emailed statement.

“In addition, with the termination of the CARES Act payroll support funding at that time, ExpressJet also will terminate or furlough most of its workforce on September 30, 2020, other than limited staff needed in connection with the wind-down of operations and the review of future business opportunities,” the statement continued.

Before the Corona crisis, ExpressJet operated around 3,300 regional flights per week on behalf of United Express using a fleet of 50-seater Embraer jets. The airline had been planning to add 36 new planes to its fleet and was offering Captain’s a $40,000 sign up bonus because of the “massive growth” it was experiencing.

But in an internal memo to staffers, ExpressJet chief executive Subodh Karnik said it had become “extremely difficult to maintain any semblance of schedule integrity” in recent months.

Karnik told employees last month that the carrier would continue normal operations for the rest of the year and was actively looking for opportunities to keep ExpressJet in business. Now, those employees will find themselves out of a job in just over a months time.

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