MIAMI – Is the tide changing? Each day we’re seeing more and more signs of a recovery in the commercial airline industry.

The latest sign is that United Airlines (UA) is reinstalling six seats on its Embraer 175s jets. This news comes from Aviation Weekly, which saw an internal memo outlining the information.

The work, which is slated to begin today and continue through June, will mean that once again the E175, the most common aircraft in the United Express fleet, will again seat 76 passengers.

United Express N144SY Embraer E175 | Photo: Andrew Henderson/Airways

Why Seats Were Removed

During the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, UA removed six seats from all 190 of its E175s. In terms of capacity, this was the equivalent to parking seven Boeing 737s. According to Airline Weekly, “The move was the result of scope limits in its contract with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) that limited the number of 76-seat aircraft that affiliates could fly under a reduced mainline schedule.”

The report goes on to say that UA was unable to put the seats back into the planes until certain schedule thresholds were met. And management said that those thresholds would not be met until demand recovered. It appears that the carrier has met those thresholds and that the airline plans to fly roughly 60% of its 2019 system schedule starting in June.

Other recent signs of recovery in the industry include Delta Air Lines (DL) announcing that it is hiring 75 pilots. There is also the possibility of the European Union opening to vaccinated Americans for the summer travel season. In addition, the fifth runway in Atlanta ATL, which was shut down during the pandemic, has been in use.

Featured image: United Express (SkyWest Airlines) N620UX Embraer E175. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways