CLEVELAND — At the Regional Airline Association (RAA) convention earlier this month, executives from both ExpressJet and TSA discussed that many of the 50 seat ERJ-145s in their fleets will keep flying for several more years.

This is all thanks to United renewing contracts to keep more than 200 ERJ-145s flying the friendly skies, but the airline, like Delta, planned to shrink its fleet of 50 seaters immensely over the next few years.

The Issue

Despite how uneconomical it can be to operate a 50 seat aircraft, they have a purpose. During RAA, Rick Leach with TSA explained “that they still have an essential role in the industry.” Leach’s statement is quite true; without the 50 seaters, many communities would lose air service, or there would be even fewer frequencies with 50 seater aircraft.

Many airlines have been adding 76 CRJ-900 and E175s to their fleets to help replace many of the E145s and CRJ-200s, but again, the 50 seaters still have a niche. The manufacturers have mostly focused on developing larger regional aircraft such as the CRJ-900, CSeries, E175, E2, and MRJ aircraft. It would appear that the aircraft manufacturers want to develop even bigger regional aircraft, but the scope clause is forcing them to stick with improving the technology that is used

It’s probably unlikely that there will be a direct replacement for the 50 seat ERJ-145s and CRJ-200s for quite some time, but then again, they’ll be flying the friendly skies for several more years.

Other Airlines Keeping “The Barbie Jets”

Now, these are not the only two airlines that have had 50 seater regional jets’ contracts extended.

Ryan Gumm, CEO of Endeavor Air, explained that they will be keeping the 50 seat CRJ-200 aircraft in its fleet as Delta still sees a need for them. Part of the reorganization plan was to remove the CRJ-200s from the fleet.

Meanwhile, Republic Airways Inc. will also be keeping several ERJ-145s in its fleet as Delta recently extended its contract on them. Bryan Bedford, CEO of Republic Airways Inc., said that this “is really good for the company,” but he made it clear that he would have also liked to have seen a single fleet type.