The Embraer E145 inflight experience is set to improve at United Airlines. The carrier confirmed this morning that the planes will receive a streaming entertainment solution similar to that available on the carrier’s larger planes as part of an interior retrofit. The news was first tipped, then withdrawn, at the carrier’s Media Day event in October 2019.
We have made the long-term commitment to the Embraer ERJ145 and designed the comprehensive cabin, seat, and entertainment upgrade to deliver a contemporary customer experience. We’re confident that our partners at ExpressJet can execute that vision.– Sarah Murphy, United Airlines’ Senior Vice President of United Express
Today’s announcement comes as the ExpressJet regional operation expands its E145 fleet for United with 36 additional frames joining over the next 12 months, bringing the total to more than 125 jets. The streaming IFE joins new interior side panels, new seats, and LED lighting among the improvements planned for the fleet.
United did not disclose the vendor selection for the new streaming IFE solution. The company also did not mention adding power outlets to the fleet. While that’s less than ideal as users are expected to use their own devices for content playback most of the E145 flights are relatively short, making it less of an issue than on the larger regional jets.
Shifting Capacity in the 50-seat Market
The fleet updates also come as the two parties agreed to an expansion and extension of the Capacity Purchase Agreement under which ExpressJet operates the E145 fleet for United.
United’s trust in ExpressJet is a testament to the dedication and adaptability of ExpressJet’s employees. Growing our fleet and upgrading the ERJ145s embodies our vision: ‘To be the United Express carrier that best understands and fulfills the needs of United Airlines.’– Subodh Karnik, Chairman and CEO of ExpressJet Airlines
As part of the E145 fleet expansion ExpressJet will establish a crew base in Denver to support additional operations from that hub. ExpressJet will also phase out its E175 fleet as part of the move, “to speed-up growth and become an efficient single-fleet airline.”
The total 50-seat fleet is capped by the pilot scope clause so United cannot unilaterally add these 36 planes without making cuts elsewhere. A United spokesperson confirms to PaxEx.Aero that the Trans States Airlines E145 fleet will be eliminated as a result, “They’ll continue to operate for us through 2020 but yes, that will wind down.” This also means that Trans States Airlines will cease operations at the end of the year. The E145s are the only planes it flies and they are operated exclusively for United Airlines Express.
United notes that GoJet also operates under the Trans States Holdings banner so the overall relationship will remain in place. Some Trans States Airlines E145 pilots might shift to the GoJet operation, though that may depend on union integration agreements.