|Headquarters||Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.|
|Key people||Subodh Karnik (CEO & Chairman)|
ExpressJet Airlines is an American regional airline headquartered in College Park, Georgia. The company plans to launch aha! a brand for flights operating between Reno-Tahoe International Airport and cities along the West Coast of the United States. Flights are expected to begin on October 24, 2021.
The airline was established in 1986 and started operations in 1987. The airline was purchased by SkyWest, Inc. (the parent company of SkyWest Airlines, the largest regional airline in the United States) in November 2010 and merged with Atlantic Southeast Airlines. The company had contracts to fly as American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express. In late 2018, it was announced that ExpressJet would be spun-off by SkyWest and would be purchased by a joint venture called ManaAir with KAir Enterprises as the majority (50.1%) owner and United Airlines as the minority (49.9%) owner. Amid the transaction with United, the airline flew solely as United Express until it lost its contract on September 30, 2020 resulting from decimation in travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline was established in 1986 and started operations in 1987. Its origins were in a group of small commuter airlines acquired by Texas Air Corporation / Continental Airlines. These included Bar Harbor Airlines in Maine, Provincetown-Boston Airlines in New England, Rocky Mountain Airways in Denver, Colorado, and Britt Airways in Terre Haute, Indiana. ExpressJet operates under the original Federal Aviation Administration Part 121 certificate issued to Britt, which began operations as Continental Express in April 1987 and was later acquired by Continental Airlines. ExpressJet Airlines, Inc. incorporated in 1996.
ExpressJet was spun off from Continental in 2002. Afterwards the company began plans to move into a corporate headquarters location. ExpressJet has over 8,000 employees. ExpressJet Holdings also owns American Composites LLC, Saltillo Jet Center, and InTech Aerospace Services. Together with other facilities throughout the U.S. they make up ExpressJet Services which provides third-party maintenance, repair and overhaul services for a variety of aircraft types. ExpressJet Holdings also has non-controlling interests in Wings Holdings LLC 49% and Flight Services and Systems Inc 44%.
Following a December 2005 decision by Continental to reduce ExpressJet's Continental Express flying by 69 aircraft, the airline elected to operate the aircraft independently. On December 31, 2006, the airline began its charter operation. It currently operates 6 aircraft for charter services under the Corporate Aviation Division.
On April 2, 2007, the airline began point-to-point services under its own name to locations throughout the U.S. The airline had a total of 42 aircraft in their branded operation. According to ExpressJet CEO James Ream, LA/Ontario International Airport in Ontario, California (alternate airport to nearby LAX) would become the airline's "biggest center of operation". In addition to Ontario in the west, New Orleans operated as a hub with additional focus cities and 24 destinations. During this period oil prices escalated from $50 per barrel to $140 which made conditions unsustainable for the branded operation. The service ended on September 2, 2008.
In June 2007, the airline began service at LAX to western ski markets and Mexico on behalf of Delta Air Lines under the Delta Connection banner using 10 EMB 145XR aircraft. In July 2007, the agreement was increased to 18 aircraft. In July 2008, the agreement was terminated and ExpressJet ended all Delta Connection flying by September 1. A few days after announcing the end of its agreement with Delta, ExpressJet announced on July 8, 2008, that it would also end its independent ExpressJet-branded flying on September 2 due to the oil price increases since 2003. This resulted in the furlough of 347 pilots.
In September 2007, the airline agreed to provide feeder service for Frontier Airlines from Denver International Airport while federal certification for Frontier's Lynx Aviation turboprop subsidiary was underway. ExpressJet flew to 5 cities from Frontier's Denver hub using 50-seat ERJ 145 regional jets until Frontier's subsidiary, Lynx Aviation, received DOT approval in December 2007. As of December 7, ExpressJet discontinued providing feeder service for Frontier Airlines.
In April 2008, SkyWest, Inc. proposed an acquisition of ExpressJet at a price of $23.50/share. ExpressJet Holdings Inc. said its special committee unanimously rejected the proposal. SkyWest rescinded the offer in early June after ExpressJet Holdings and Continental signed a new 7-year Capacity Purchase Agreement. This proposal was ultimately not successful.
On August 21, 2009, an incident occurred where passengers were forced to stay on a parked plane at Rochester, Minnesota, for six hours with no food and overflowing toilets. The airline crew tried over thirty times to call the contract carrier, Delta Connection, (which services the Rochester airport) to let the passengers off. The agents for the regional Mesaba Airlines refused. The Department of Transportation cited the main cause of the incident as the Mesaba Airlines station's refusal to park the aircraft. However, Continental Airlines and ExpressJet were also fined for the part they played in the incident.
ExpressJet began a temporary contract with United Airlines to fly as a United Express carrier beginning in June 2009. The contract was for approximately 10 aircraft that operated out of United's O'Hare and Washington (Dulles) hub. The aircraft were flown in ExpressJet livery. The contract ended on September 2, 2009.
In late 2010 ExpressJet signed a multiple year contract with United Airlines for 22 ERJ-145 aircraft. The aircraft were flown, for the first time, in full United Express colors. Additionally, 10 more ERJ-145s; in ExpressJet colors, operated for United during the peak Summer travel season in 2010. The first flights under this new contract started December 1, 2009 and all 22 aircraft were in United Express service by Spring 2010.
In May 2010, ExpressJet began operating Branson AirExpress, non-stop air service between Branson, Missouri and Houston, Texas; Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; Des Moines, Iowa; Shreveport, Louisiana and Terre Haute, Indiana; Chicago Midway and Indianapolis. ExpressJet last flight operating under Branson Air Express was on Oct 30 2010.
On November 12, 2010, the financial transaction between Atlantic Southeast Airlines (a subsidiary of SkyWest, Inc.) and ExpressJet was closed. Thus as a legal entity the original (legacy) ExpressJet airlines effectively ceased to exist. Atlantic Southeast Airlines continued to operate ExpressJet during that time under the terms of their then current operating certificate with the FAA as "ExpressJet Airlines" while a new name for the recently merged companies was being considered.
In October 2011, the employees of ExpressJet and Atlantic Southeast Airlines voted to keep the name ExpressJet as the combined airlines new name, while Atlantic Southeast's "Acey" callsign would remain.
In October 2013, ExpressJet opened a new crew domicile in Kansas City, Missouri, at Kansas City International Airport. ExpressJet also opened a crew domicile in Denver, at Denver International Airport.
In August 2017, as United Airlines purchase talks gained momentum Delta Air Lines terminated its contract with ExpressJet, which took effect in late 2018. The fleet of CRJ-900 aircraft, which were owned by Delta and leased, were transferred to Endeavor Air.
January 2019 ExpressJet Airlines announced finalization of its acquisition by Mana Air, LLC along with United Airlines as a minority investor. In addition, United committed delivery of 25 new ERJ-175 aircraft to ExpressJet for United Express operations beginning in April 2019.
February 2020 United Airlines announced a formal reassignment of 36 ERJ-145 jets from another United Express carrier to ExpressJet. This made ExpressJet the largest operator of ERJ-145 aircraft in the world.
Due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the airline industry, on July 30, 2020, it was announced that United Airlines decided to end its contract with ExpressJet and transfer these operations to fellow United Express affiliate CommutAir. CommutAir would become the sole operator of the United Express Embraer ERJ-145 fleet.
On August 24, 2020, it was announced ExpressJet would end United Express operations on 30 September 2020. As part of the operational wind down ExpressJet had closed maintenance bases at Chicago O'Hare and Cleveland Hopkins International airports. Despite the lack of flying since the end of March 2020, the crew base in Newark never officially closed before systemwide operations ended. Likewise, the flight crew base in Chicago remained open until shutdown as the final revenue flight to O'Hare (Flight 3915 from Fargo) by ExpressJet was completed on September 2nd.
On 30 September 2020 at 11:44 AM, ExpressJet Airlines flight 4001 departed out of gate former Continental Express Gate C14A at Memphis International Airport, 6 minutes ahead of schedule utilizing the former "Jetlink" call-sign. A local grass-roots effort lead by United CSA David Knowles and Lead Ramp Serviceman Johnny Dortch at MEM arranged for a surprise water-cannon salute to honor the working crew, along with the several former/current ExpressJet employees onboard as passengers and in the terminal looking outwards prior to its takeoff 11 minutes later. Jetlink 4001 then touched down at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston at 1:24 PM, parking 8 minutes later after a low altitude fly-over and additional water-cannon salute at Gate B87. The final flight was piloted by former Houston Chief Pilot James Campbell and former Houston Assistant Chief Pilot, Sean George with Teresa Baltazar-Arambula serving as the Flight Attendant. This flight was not only the last revenue ExpressJet departure, but also the last ExpressJet revenue arrival subsequently concluding all ExpressJet Airlines operations, sans any media attention.
In July 2021, The US Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a final fitness order allowing ExpressJet Airlines to restart commercial operations. The passage of time required the carrier to recertify with the DOT and expects to resume service within the quarter. The carrier will focus on cities, markets, and customers that have seen diminished air service as a result of airline consolidation and an industry trend towards larger aircraft.
The company plans to launch aha! a brand for flights operating between Reno-Tahoe International Airport and cities along the West Coast of the United States. Flights are expected to begin on October 24, 2021.
The United AVIATE program guaranteed eligible ExpressJet pilots participation in United’s hiring process and, once accepted into the program, the expectation that they would become a mainline United Airlines pilot. Through the program, United had committed to hiring a sizable portion of its new-hire pilots directly from ExpressJet.
ExpressJet previously had its headquarters in the North Belt Office Center IV, a building in the Greens Crossing office park, a 484-acre (1.96 km2) mixed-use office park; the office park is in the Greenspoint area of Houston.
ExpressJet was one of three tenants that leased space in the two-building, 107,200-square-foot (9,960 m2) North Belt Office Center complex, which includes buildings III and IV. FORT Properties manages both buildings. ExpressJet uses the location due to the proximity to George Bush Intercontinental Airport and to Continental Center I, the Continental Airlines headquarters in Downtown Houston. ExpressJet had relocated its headquarters to its final Houston location by 2006. FORT had acquired the buildings in 2007, which were built in 2003.
Accidents and incidents
- On May 1, 2013, Scandinavian Airlines Flight 908 that was readied for takeoff at Newark, an A330 bound for Oslo, Norway, was directly behind ExpressJet Flight 4226, destined for Nashville, Tennessee, on the taxiway and was turning right to get onto another taxiway when its wing clipped the ExpressJet plane's tail. No injuries were reported.
- On April 3, 2012, an ExpressJet Embraer ERJ-145, registration N15973, operating as Flight UA/EV-5912 from Peoria, IL to Denver, was landing on 34R in Denver when the aircraft hit the approach lights and stopped on the runway. Smoke developed inside the aircraft and passengers were evacuated onto the runway. One passenger was taken to hospital for treatment of his injuries.
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- "aha! launches eight nonstop flights from Reno-Tahoe International Airport to cities across the western United States" (PDF) (Press release). September 29, 2021. Retrieved September 30, 2021.
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Media related to ExpressJet at Wikimedia Commons