Air Transport World

People-pleasing money-makers.

Based on early returns, RJs not only please passengers, they also boost revenue and profits

The old knock on regional jets, that passengers love them but airlines can't really afford them, is losing steam as the industry amasses extensive operating experience with 50-seat and smaller jets. Airline executives and outside analysts contacted by ATW believe that 50-seat RJs not only make money for Major and Regional airlines but stimulate substantial new traffic, particularly the high-yield variety. This more than offsets the cost of flying turbofan-powered equipment, according to operators. As they become more confident with the economics, they are using the jets on shorter stage lengths and as replacements for mainline transports. At the end of September, there were 99 ERJ-145s and 189 CRJs operating in the US.

Nowhere has the RJ's effect on a Regional's bottom line been more dramatic than at Delta Express Comair, the US launch customer for the Canadair RJ, which it introduced into commercial service in 1993. It now has a fleet of 80. In FY99, Comair reported net income of $132.9 million and a cost per ASM of 15.3[cent]. In 1992, the last year it had an all-turboprop fleet, net income was $12.4 million and CASM 17.7[cent]. The CRJs get a lot of the credit for the increase in earnings, says the airline.

At Continental Express, which will have 54 ERJ-145s and six smaller ERJ-135s by 2000, the effect on the bottom line also has been impressive. …

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