Customers of American Airlines may find themselves on a regional flight with seats missing in rows. The front of an American Eagle Embraer ERJ-175, registration N502SY, operated by SkyWest, may be seen here. This is a brand-new aircraft that was delivered in August 2021, and it’s one of ten Embraer E-175 regional planes that American is now flying.
American Airlines announcement:
We’ve modified a small number of regional aircraft operated by SkyWest in order to maintain our flying schedule and to ensure we’re complying with the terms of our pilot contract. Those modifications include temporarily removing some seats in both the First Class and main cabins. These modified aircraft will likely remain flying into Summer 2022.
The pilot scope provision in American’s charter agreement limits them to using regional planes with 66-76 seats for no more than 40% of their mainline narrowbody fleet. T
The Boeing 757 and Embraer E-190 fleets were retired, reducing the size of the mainline narrowbody fleet and limiting the number of regional jets with 66 seats or more.
They will, however, introduce Airbus A321neos, A321XLRs, and Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to the fleet, easing some of the strain on larger-capacity regional flights.
These E-175 regional planes with fewer seats, according to SkyWest, are only used “as substitutes when CRJ-700s are unavailable.” This, they claim, “doesn’t cause any scheduling issues on our end, and consumers aren’t harmed when flying on these planes.”
These planes aren’t clearly marked on schedules and are scheduled to travel in close proximity. As a result, when CR7s are replaced by these E-175s, seat allocations may be shifted.
American isn’t under any pressure to take large regional jets and fill them with just 50 seats, as United is with the CRJ-550. Instead, they’re removing a few rows of seats, which I expect to be replaced once the mainline fleet grows.
United is limited to a total of 102 regional planes with 70 passengers and a total of 153 with 76 seats. Their limitations are comparable to those of Delta. American’s scope clause is more flexible, which they have used to their advantage, but they appear to have reached the limit of that flexibility.