Mainline (aeronautics)

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Unlike many other airlines, JetBlue's mainline equipment includes both the Emb-190 and A320. Flight attendant aircrew members are trained to operate on both types of equipment, while at the traditional legacy carriers, such operations on the smaller aircraft are mostly outsourced to smaller, usually independently owned regional airlines.
Embraer E-190. Similarly to JetBlue, US Airways and Air Canada both operate the Embraer 190 as part of their mainline fleets.

A mainline flight is a flight operated by an airline's main operating unit, rather than by regional alliances, regional code-shares or regional subsidiaries. In the United States, examples of mainline passenger airline flights include those operated by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and US Airways but it would not include flights operated by regional airlines Envoy Air, Executive Airlines, Piedmont Airlines, or PSA Airlines with regional jets or the services of regional airline marketing brands such as American Eagle, Delta Connection, United Express, or US Airways Express aboard lower-capacity narrowbody jets and turboprop aircraft, such as those produced by Embraer or Bombardier, that do not have transcontinental range.

Often US mainline airline carriers operate in-house brands such as United p.s. to cater to business segments such as the short-range air shuttle, low-cost, or premium-service flights which normally would not support the traffic or revenue yield needed for the traditional operation of larger mainline aircraft with over 100 passenger seats between selected city pairs.

Major U.S. Mainline Carriers[edit]

Airline Regional subsidiaries1 Regional brand2
Legacy carriers
American Airlines3 Envoy Air American Eagle
US Airways3 PSA Airlines
Piedmont Airlines
US Airways Express
Delta Air Lines Endeavor Air Delta Connection
United Airlines No regional subsidiary United Express
Alaska Airlines Horizon Air Alaska Horizon
Alaska SkyWest
Hawaiian Airlines No regional subsidiary Ohana by Hawaiian
Low-cost carriers
Allegiant Airlines No regional subsidiary No regional brand
Frontier Airlines No regional subsidiary Great Lakes Aviation4
JetBlue Airways No regional subsidiary Cape Air4
Southwest Airlines No regional subsidiary No regional brand
Spirit Airlines No regional subsidiary No regional brand
Sun Country Airlines No regional subsidiary No regional brand
Virgin America No regional subsidiary No regional brand

1 Wholly owned subsidiaries with separate operating certificates flying regional jets under the regional branding.
2 Branding used for regional feeder service and commuter flights. Operated either by a regional subsidiary or under contract by an independent regional airline.
3Owned by American Airlines Group; full integration under the American Airlines name pending.
4 These independent airlines operate regional aircraft under codeshare agreements with a mainline carrier.

See also[edit]

Flag Carrier



  • [1], AA and early references to mainline, regional and B-scale