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Lbell911 07-05-2007 11:49 AM

New CRJ-900 Ordered for Mesaba & Compass
 
Remade airlines seek an advantage with roomier regional jets

By JOSHUA FREED,
AP
Posted: 2007-07-05 14:31:46
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Airlines are rushing to add new regional jets with first-class seats, roomier cabins and, in some cases, hot food.

The carriers are hoping business travelers tired of a cramped 50-seat jet will pay extra for a flight experience closer to what they get on a mainline jet. The addition could help airlines turn a profit on flights that have generally been a loss-leader feeding traffic into long-haul flights, although rising fuel prices could complicate the plan.

Airlines that recently went through bankruptcy - Northwest, Delta, and United - are the freest to add such jets because of relaxed restrictions in their pilot contracts.

Northwest Airlines Corp. is adding 72 new 76-seat jets through next year. Half will be Bombardier CRJ-900s flown by its Mesaba subsidiary and the other half will be Embraer 175s flown by its new Compass subsidiary. Both include a dozen first-class seats, and the cabin is roomier than on Northwest's other regional jets. Delta Air Lines Inc. plans to fly 77 dual-class regional jets by the end of 2008, and United regional partners now fly about 115 70-seat jets with coach, first-class and an Economy Plus seat with extra legroom.

Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton said business customers have been asking for the regional first-class seats for years. The aim with the new jets is "to make it all more seamless and more like the mainline jet experience," she said.

First-class seats on Northwest's new jets will include the same level of meal service as on regular flights. Northwest, which is Michigan's biggest passenger air carrier and has a hub at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, said it helped design its version of the Bombardier CRJ900, which has 6 feet 2 inches from floor to ceiling in the aisle, and windows that are 25 percent bigger than an earlier version of the CRJ900.

That's a big improvement over the 50-seaters often used on regional routes, even if doesn't quite match mainline flying, said aviation consultant George Hamlin of Airline Capital Associates Inc.

"You had to be a midget to see out the windows of the 50-seater, it was so low," he said.

Brad Ness hal cost is spread among fewer passengers, and the gas-guzzling takeoff is a larger proportion of the shorter flight.

Still, he said the new 76-seat jets make some sense for Northwest, especially compared with one jet it replaces - Northwest's old 69-seat Avros. Northwest retired the four-engine gas hog from its regional fleet as it reorganized in bankruptcy.

The new regional jets improve margins by about 16 percentage points versus Northwest's older 100-seat DC-9s, which they are replacing on some routes, Chief Financial Officer Dave Davis told analysts at a conference in June.

The new jets stretch the idea of "regional" flying. For instance, Northwest used to fly some 1,400 miles from Minneapolis to Vancouver only seasonally, when demand could fill an Airbus. It dropped the route when demand slackened because that was too far for a 50-seat jet. But it's within range for the new Embraer, which is the plane Northwest will use on that route.

"What people really care about is nonstop service. And these aircraft are the right size to introduce them into many markets that wouldn't have it otherwise," Hamlin said.

Thank bankruptcy.

Until recently, pilot contracts at most major airlines put tight limits on how many small jets they could fly, because pay for those jets was less than for larger jets.

But in bankruptcy, Northwest, Delta, and UAL Corp.'s United won concessions from pilots expanding the number of jets they can fly in the 70-seat range. Northwest's order for 72 of those jets maxes out the new higher limit, although it can fly as many as 90 such jets if it also boosts the size of its mainline fleet.

Meanwhile, AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, the nation's largest carrier, has its feeder American Eagle flying just 25 jets with 70 seats, none of them first class. It could fly 25 more but has chosen not to. The contract is even stricter at Continental Airlines Inc., allowing no regional jets with more than 50 seats. It plans to add 74-seat propeller-driven planes to be flown by a feeder carrier but those planes also won't have first-class seats.

"It's kind of ironic," Abbey said. "By avoiding bankruptcy they're actually relatively constrained compared to those carriers which have been able to modify work rules in bankruptcy."

Airsupport 07-05-2007 12:03 PM

old news. everyone knew this 6 months ago....

and i love this quote:

"By avoiding bankruptcy they're actually relatively constrained compared to those carriers which have been able to modify work rules in bankruptcy."

holy shiz. i guess anytime an airline needs something just declare bankruptcy and get it. MODIFY?? or DESTROY??

G-Dog 07-05-2007 12:23 PM


Originally Posted by Lbell911 (Post 190700)
Remade airlines seek an advantage with roomier regional jets
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Airlines are rushing to add new regional jets with first-class seats, roomier cabins and, in some cases, hot food.

CRJ roomier? Are they removing seats from the back? Cause they suck, on all the CRJs.

STILL GROUNDED 07-05-2007 12:41 PM


Originally Posted by G-Dog (Post 190715)
CRJ roomier? Are they removing seats from the back? Cause they suck, on all the CRJs.


They'd have to remove an entire isle of seats <3 abreast> and lower the seats 7 inches to make this thing worth a crap. Its no wider its no taller, its the same junk in a longer tube.

Airsupport 07-05-2007 01:23 PM


Originally Posted by G-Dog (Post 190715)
CRJ roomier? Are they removing seats from the back? Cause they suck, on all the CRJs.

actually the rumor floating around here at pinnacle is that nwa wants to make all of our 200's have a first class cabin. they would have i believe the first 3 rows would be single seats for 6 total in first class, staggered for leg room, and then 38 coach seats for a total of 44. supposedly they were showing one off to see if they would sign off on it. oh yeah, and anyway you do it, the room will still suck

Lbell911 07-05-2007 01:32 PM

Sorry I don't know much about Cont. Airlines, but who is flying or going to fly the Cont. 72 seat turbo props they are talking about? Are these going to be ATR-72's?

FoxDelta 07-06-2007 08:34 AM

No they are talking about DHC-8-400 by Colgan starting Continental Express or Connection, whatever it is, out of La Guardia. They'll start in December.

JoeyMeatballs 07-06-2007 08:37 AM


Originally Posted by Lbell911 (Post 190752)
Sorry I don't know much about Cont. Airlines, but who is flying or going to fly the Cont. 72 seat turbo props they are talking about? Are these going to be ATR-72's?

Some bootleg operation called, "We abuse our pilots", whoooopps I mean COLGAN, and its out of EWR not LGA.............

FoxDelta 07-06-2007 08:54 AM

I was gonna say "my bad it's EWR" but you are pretty quick aren't ya!

JoeyMeatballs 07-06-2007 09:01 AM


Originally Posted by FoxDelta (Post 191113)
I was gonna say "my bad it's EWR" but you are pretty quick aren't ya!

Nothing else to do in Halifax, its like 55 and 3/4miles in rain, it blows here, the Cat II was fun though :)


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