American Airlines to deploy up to 215 large regional jets by 2018

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane recently approved American Airlines’ proposal to have regional carrier Republic Airlines operate 47 airplanes on American’s behalf according the Dallas Morning News.

In the 12-year deal, Republic will acquire the 76-seat airplanes from Embraer and fly them under American’s “American Eagle” brand, primarily out of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

An American official said in a filing that American wants to have regional partners flying as many as 215 of the larger regional jets by 2018. A new contract with American’s pilot union allows the carrier to contract much more flying of the larger airplanes than in the past.

American’s previous contract with the Allied Pilots Association had allowed a maximum of 47 regional jets with 51 to 70 seats. At present, its sister company, AMR Eagle, operates 47 Bombardier CRJ-700s with 65 seats. The new contract greatly expands the number of those larger airplanes, and takes the limit up to 76 seats with aircraft like the Embraer E175.

“The Agreement will not reduce or divert flying opportunities from American Eagle as contemplated by the American Eagle business plan. The aircraft to be provided by Republic under the Agreement are incremental to the regional services contemplated to be provided by American Eagle to American under the Debtors’ business plan. American Eagle will still operate the majority of the 50-seat aircraft at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (approximately 80% of 50-seat aircraft).

Originally, Republic also proposed using six used E-175s, but the two sides amended the contract in January to take those out.