After informing regional feeder airlines CommutAir and ExpressJet of plans to cut ties with one of the two, United Airlines has opted for the latter.
The move will allow United to consolidate all of its regional Embraer 145 feeder services under one banner, in order to simplify its network and lower overhead costs.
However, it comes as a disaster for thousands of ExpressJet employees, with union officials previously saying it would have a “dramatic impact” on the airline’s viability.
Much like CommutAir, ExpressJet flew on a sole-source contract with the larger United, meaning the airline will be left scrambling to secure new clientele amid the downturn.
“We are very disappointed that United Airlines did not select ExpressJet Airlines to be its future ERJ145 United Express operator,” said ExpressJet in a statement.
The company added that it would look to explore all options for the company’s future in 2021, though it expected to continue normal operations through the rest of this year as the transition is completed.
The news leaves United with five regional affiliates once its relationship with ExpressJet is terminated: Air Wisconsin, CommutAir, Mesa Airlines, Republic Airline and SkyWest Airlines.
In February of last year, United ended its relationship with Trans States Airlines, another United regional affiliate that operated the E145 type. Trans State folded shortly after the decision, with United affirming it had made a “long-term” commitment to ExpressJet.