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Delta Set To Deploy Skywest CRJ-550s

Delta Set To Deploy Skywest CRJ-550s

BY EDWARD CARR Published on May 17, 2024 0 COMMENTS

SkyWest Airlines is set to add the Bombardier CRJ-550 to its fleet, replacing 19 CRJ-700s operated under an expiring contract with United Airlines. 

 

Photo: Jared Jamel, AeroXplorer

 

The announcement comes as part of SkyWest’s first-quarter earnings call. During this call, the airline also announced that they expect their new aircraft to be deployed by this summer. SkyWest has revealed that these new CRJ-550s will be operated under an agreement that the airline has with Delta Airlines, as hinted to by Delta adding the aircraft type to its fleet page on their website. 

 



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The Bombardier CRJ-550 is essentially a normal CRJ-700 configured for 50 seats instead of the usual 70.  On these newly configured aircraft, there will be 10 first-class seats, 20 premium economy seats (Comfort+), and 20 economy seats. The interior will also feature special luggage closets for carry-on bags, streamlining the boarding process by eliminating the need for carryons to be collected and gate-checked. First Class will include a small walk-up bar area with snacks and soft drinks as part of a First Class galley up-front.

 

SkyWest's CRJ-550s will likely be operated on some Essential Air Service (EAS) routes for which SkyWest used the 50-seat CRJ-200. It is part of Delta’s dual-class strategy that began with an August 2023 directive that all flights under Delta branding must have a first-class cabin by December 1st of 2024. SkyWest was the last Delta Affiliate (regional airline partner) to retire their CRJ-200s, with the last Delta/SkyWest CRJ-200 flight being flown between Elko Nevada (EKO), and Delta's Salt Lake City (SLC) hub in December.

 

The 50-seat limitation is also key to compliance with “scope clauses” negotiated with pilots’ unions that determine what flying is to be done by regional airliners and what routes are to be flown by the larger jets at mainline carriers such as Delta and United. 

 



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Aircraft with 50 seats or fewer fall outside of most scope clauses. If a regional carrier wishes to grow its fleet, it would have to negotiate the number and use of aircraft with more than fifty seats. Thus, the CRJ-550 provides additional flexibility to its operators in terms of fleet growth as well as EAS eligibility.

 

With premium heavy interiors featuring 10 First Class and 20 Comfort+ seats, the CRJ-550 is an ideal aircraft where so-called premium heavy interiors are in higher demand from business travelers between major East Coast cities.

 

Prior to this announcement, only regional airline to operate the CRJ-500 was GoJet for United Express. GoJet’s 36 CRJ-550s are leased from SkyWest.

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Edward Carr
I am an aviation writer for AeroXplorer.com. I have worked in various aspects of commercial aviation, including simulator visual database design for FlightSafety International; economic research for the Centre for Aviation Safety Research at Parks College of Aviation, Saint Louis University; business planning for Air Choice One regional airlines. It all started with various summer positions for TWA. My novel and associated podcast, Time Of Departure, an aviation-related time-travel story, will be released in June of this year. A professional musician with an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, I have written everything from music blogs to marketing plans. My favorite flying experience was flying a 1946 Cessna 120 to the EAA fly-in at Oshkosh with my brother when we were both in college. I currently enjoy flying light sport aircraft and living in St. Louis, MO, USA.

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