Air Transport World

ExpressJet stretches to grow: Continental Airlines' regional subsidiary counts on the longer legs of its ERJ-145XRs to spread its wings into new markets. (Profile).

There is a saying here in Houston, home of ExpressJet and its parent Continental Airlines, that pretty much sums up the guiding principle behind their success: Work hard, fly right. It is an oversimplification of ExpressJet's complicated and ambitious business plan, yet it describes the way the carrier approached its initial public offering last spring (see box, p. 55) as well as its ability to operate at near-perfect levels of reliability while adding new aircraft and routes in a period of extreme industry stress.

The partial spinoff saw Continental sell 47% of its Regional codeshare partner into a responsive market. ExpressJet's "controllable" completion factor excluding cancellations owing to weather or air traffic control during the first nine months of 2002 was 99.9%.

By the end of August the Regional was operating a fleet of 183 aircraft that included 166 regional jets. New ERJs are arriving at the rate of four per month from an order for 124, and ExpressJet is the launch customer for Embraer's new extended-range version, the ERJ-145XR. That model accounts for 104 of the firm orders and the first was scheduled to arrive last month. The rapid buildup permits an aggressive phaseout of the remaining turboprops and all will be gone by the end of the first quarter.

"We are right in the middle of a pretty aggressive delivery schedule and we're trying to make sure the infrastructure is in place to support that expansion. I'm very happy with the airplane and how the operations are going," CEO Jim Ream tells ATW "The 145XR gives us an expanded mission capability over the current 145s we have. There will be new markets and we will fill in some off-peak time channels." Currently, ExpressJet offers more than 1,000 daily departures to more than 105 cities in North America from Cleveland, Houston and Newark.

Ream says the new jet will link previously underserved communities with Continental's hubs. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.