170 Now; Maybe 380 More Later
Bombarider and Embraer, the world's #3 and #4
airliner-makers, are popping champagne corks this week, after the
restructured US Airways, fresh out of Chapter 11, has confirmed an
order for 50 and 70-passenger jets.
The order, for 170 planes, is divided roughly equally
between the Canadians and the Brazilians; the 380-plane options
also negotiated and announced, are split likewise.
One of the keys to US Airways' emergence plan was an all-new
pilots' agreement, that allowed a lot more of the smaller jets in
the fleet. Not only are the regional jets a closer match to the
anticipated business of US Airways, their pilots get paid a lot
less than the 200-PAX pilots. Cabin crews are smaller, as well.
Still, your airline's adding airplanes is a good
thing, when you're a pilot who's spending too much time at home.
Half the new regional-jet jobs, the airline says, will be filled by
previously laid-off pilots.
The restructuring of US Airways' fleet was inevitable and
necessary, said CEO David Siegel, noting that American, Delta, and
Continental are already flying from two to four times as many
smaller 'liners as US Airways.
US Airways, which already operates 84 regional jets, will use
the new RJs primarily to replace older turboprops; some 737 and
A319 routes may also see the CRJs and ERJs, which should boast
higher load factors, lower operating costs, and (as newer machines
invariably show) less maintenance downtime.
The order consists of 60, CRJ-200 (50-seat, top);
25, CRJ-700 (75-seat, shown in American livery); and 85 Embraer
170s (with 70 seats, middle). The 170-plane order is worth about
Having smaller machines available will also give the airline
more flexibility in expanding, as well as maintaining, routes. The
new jets will appear, first, in the guise of US Airways' ten
partner-airlines. One such is MidAtlantic Airways, whose entire
fleet will be comprised of the new regional jets -- and whose pilot
complement will be made up entirely of laid-off US Airways big-jet