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SkyWest Plans to Add CRJ-550s

The regional operator said it plans to transition 19 CRJ-700s into CRJ-550s.

A SkyWest Airlines Bombardier CRJ-700 aircraft on final approach at O’Hare International Airport. (Photo: Shutterstock)

SkyWest says it plans to operate CRJ-550 aircraft as early as this summer. The Utah-based regional carrier is slated to transition 19 CRJ-700s expiring from its American contract to the 50-seat configuration.

Currently, United Express carrier GoJet is the only operator of the CRJ-550, according to AirFleets.net data. The 36 active aircraft in GoJet’s fleet – on lease from SkyWest – are configured with 10 first class and 40 economy seats.

The aircraft – largely used as a mechanism to comply with pilot scope clauses – has the same airframe as a CRJ-700 with just 50 seats. Typically, CRJ-700 jets can have up to 78 seats in a standard configuration, but U.S. carriers have between 65 and 70.

“The 19 CRJ-700s expiring from our American contract this year will transition to become CRJ-550s in our fleet,” said SkyWest’s Chief Commercial Officer Wade Steel in a first quarter earnings call.

Steel did not specify which airline would brand the CRJ-550s. “We anticipate the first CRJ-550 to be flying for one of our major partners during the summer months,” he added.

SkyWest has 117 CRJ-700 aircraft in its fleet as of 2023, which operate for American, Delta, and United.  Delta retired its last 50-seat CRJ-200 aircraft late last year and requires all regional markets to be served with two-class aircraft.

According to various Essential Air Service (EAS) documents, SkyWest – operating flights on behalf of Delta – has the option to operate CRJ-550, CRJ-700, or CRJ-900 aircraft to a handful of markets.

For example, the carrier was awarded an EAS contract for Escanaba, Mich. in November 2023. “SkyWest will provide Escanaba with 12 round trips per week from Delta County Airport (ESC) to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) and/or Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), using 50-passenger Bombardier CRJ550 (CRJ550), 65/69-passenger Bombardier CRJ700 (CRJ700), or 76-passenger Bombardier CRJ900 (CRJ900) aircraft,” the award document reads.

Escanaba is one of a handful of markets that SkyWest previously served with 50-seat CRJ-200 aircraft before being phased out under the Delta Connection brand.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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