|Alliance||Star Alliance (affiliate)|
|Parent company||United Continental Holdings|
|Key people||Oscar Munoz (CEO)|
On October 1, 2010, UAL Corporation and Continental Airlines merged to form United Continental Holdings, the holding company for the newly merged United Airlines. As Continental and United merged, Continental Connection and Continental Express has gradually adopted the United Express brand name, bringing the number of operators to twelve and the number of aircraft to over 550. The first aircraft painted into the new United Express livery was an Embraer ERJ-145 operated by ExpressJet.
As of November 30, 2011, after United had received its Single Operating Certificate following its merger with Continental Airlines, nearly 550 aircraft fly under the United Express brand.
Major airlines in the United States had long maintained relationships with regional carriers which fed passengers from small markets to larger cities. The Airline Deregulation Act spurred industry consolidation both vertically and horizontally, and as the hub system became more pronounced, airlines formalized these relationships through code sharing, shared branding, and listing regional partners in computer reservations systems. On May 1, 1985, United formally partnered with Air Wisconsin, Aspen Airways, and WestAir as United Express, feeding its hubs at Chicago-O'Hare, Denver-Stapleton, and San Francisco International Airports. Air Wisconsin and Aspen would merge in 1991.
In 1988, Presidential Airways became a United Express carrier for United’s new hub at Washington Dulles International Airport, but soon floundered. In response, WestAir formed an eastern division to serve Dulles. WestAir itself experienced turmoil; in 1991 it spun off the new division into an independent company, Atlantic Coast Airlines (ACA), which years later would go on to become Independence Air.
In 1992, Great Lakes Airlines became a United Express partner, followed by Trans States Airlines the following year. In 1997, as United officially designated Los Angeles International Airport one of its hubs, SkyWest Airlines became a United Express partner as well. Great Lakes left the United Express system in 2001, although it continues to codeshare some routes with United.
In 1993, Trans States Airlines started United Feeder Service, to operate British Aerospace BAe ATP aircraft for United Airlines. The aircraft, originally owned by Air Wisconsin, were transferred and subsequently owned by United. UFS operated routes to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) from close markets in the U.S. Upper Midwest. UFS was eliminated from the United Express carrier network in 1999, and disappeared.
When United declared for Chapter 11 reorganization in 2002, it pressured its regional partners for reduced fees. In 2004, ACA canceled its contract and reinvented itself as low-cost carrier Independence Air. The next year, Air Wisconsin unsuccessfully bid to retain its flying contract, thought it did retain some ground-handling United Express operations. To compensate, United initiated new service agreements with Colgan Air, Trans States subsidiary GoJet Airlines, and Republic Airways Holdings subsidiaries Chautauqua Airlines and Shuttle America.
In 2005, United announced that service levels on major United Express routes would be upgraded to a new product called explus. Routes with explus service offer first class seats and meal service on larger, 70-seat Embraer 170 and 66-seat Bombardier CRJ-700 aircraft. Expanding the traditional regional partner role, United started to use the airplanes configured with explus amenities instead of, or alongside with, mainline jets on routes linking large cities, such as Chicago to Houston.
United decided to cancel Dash 8 and CRJ200 service with Mesa Airlines in November 2009. On November 16, 2009 it was announced that ExpressJet would begin operating Embraer ERJ 145 beginning in the spring of 2010. Dash 8 and Mesa Airlines CRJ200 service stopped.
All Continental Express and Continental Connection service officially merged into United Express in late 2011.
On April 1, 2012, Pinnacle Airlines Corp. filed for bankruptcy and announced it would draw down its Colgan Air operation. In May, United reached a deal with Republic Airways Holdings for its subsidiary Republic Airlines to fly the Q400 in Colgan’s place. The eight-year capacity purchase agreement includes all 28 aircraft previously operated by Colgan as well as four currently flown by Republic for Frontier Airlines.
In August 2015, United announced the start of a new subsidiary, United Ground Express, to provide ground operation service in select airports within its domestic network.
By September 2016, Republic Airlines' Q400s were phased out of service, replacing them with 50 more Embraer E175s.
On February 27, 2017, United Airlines announced the return of their partnership with Air Wisconsin as a United Express carrier. They will be flying a fleet of 65 Bombardier CRJ-200 beginning second-half 2017.
In September 2017, the last Q300 was removed from service, leaving the Q200 and ATR42 as the only turboprop aircraft in the United Express fleet.
United Express also has a bus service from Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE) near Allentown, Pennsylvania to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). Continental Airlines, which later merged into United, previously operated flights from Allentown to Newark but switched to a bus service in 1995 due to constant delays from air traffic control. It is 79 miles (127 km) long. As of 1997[update] the service was eight times daily. By February 2010 the bus was the only form of service offered by Continental after it cancelled its Allentown to Cleveland Hopkins Airport flights.
Operators and fleet
|Airline||IATA Service||ICAO Code||Call Sign||Parent||Aircraft||Number in Fleet||Orders||Passengers|
|Air Wisconsin||ZW||AWI||Wisconsin||Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation||Bombardier CRJ-200||65||—||—||4||46||50|
|Cape Air||9K||KAP||Cair||Hyannis Air Service, Inc.||ATR 42||3||—||—||—||46||46|
|CommutAir||C5||UCA||CommutAir||Champlain Enterprises, Inc.||Embraer ERJ-145||21||—||—||6||44||50|
|ExpressJet||EV||ASQ||Acey||SkyWest, Inc.||Embraer ERJ-135||3||—||—||6||31||37|
|GoJet Airlines||G7||GJS||Lindbergh||Trans States Holdings||Bombardier CRJ-700||25||—||6||16||48||70|
|Mesa Airlines||YV||ASH||Air Shuttle||Mesa Air Group||Bombardier CRJ-700||20||—||6||16||48||70|
|Republic Airline||YX||RPA||Brickyard||Republic Airways Holdings||Embraer E-170||38||—||6||16||48||70|
|SkyWest Airlines||OO||SKW||SkyWest||SkyWest, Inc.||Bombardier CRJ-200||76||2||—||4||46||50|
|Trans States Airlines||AX||LOF||Waterski||Trans States Holdings||Embraer ERJ-145||37||—||—||6||44||50|
Accidents and incidents
- On December 26, 1989, United Express Flight 2415 operated by North Pacific Airlines, a BAe Jetstream 31 crashed on approach to Tri-Cities Airport near Pasco, Washington. The four passengers and two crew members on board were killed. The crew executed an excessively steep and unstabilized ILS approach. That approach, along with improper air traffic control commands and aircraft icing, caused the aircraft to stall and crash short of the runway.
- On January 7, 1994, United Express Flight 6291 operated by Atlantic Coast Airlines, a British Aerospace Jetstream 41 crashed on approach to Port Columbus International Airport. Five passengers and three crew members were killed and three passengers survived the accident. The NTSB report concluded the aircraft was never properly stabilized for the approach to 28L. The aircraft slowed to a stall, which was not recognised by the flight crew in a timely manner. The subsequent stall recovery was performed contrary to the Airplane Flight Manual procedure, which resulted in the aircraft impacting the ground less than 2 miles from the runway.
- On November 19, 1996, United Express Flight 5925 operated by Great Lakes Airlines, a Beechcraft 1900 collided with a King Air during landing at Quincy Regional Airport. The ten passengers and two crew members on board were killed. The pilots of the King Air were blamed for failing to effectively monitor both the common frequency and to scan for traffic.
- "Ridgelines: iHistory – The Story of an Airline (1989–2004)".
- "United Express features".
- "Mesa Air Group, Inc. Announces Update on CRJ-200s Operating at United Airlines". November 6, 2009.
- "United Airlines Announces New Partnership With ExpressJet". November 16, 2009.
- "United Airlines Launches United Ground Express". August 10, 2015.
- "ANALYSIS: United Express to Eliminate Q400 fleet; Add More E175s". September 17, 2014.
- "United." Lehigh Valley International Airport. Retrieved on October 27, 2016. "Non Stop to:[...]Newark"
- Karp, Gregory (2010-05-04). "Airlines merger could halt bus flight". The Morning Call. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
- Wade, Betsy (1997-12-14). "PRACTICAL TRAVELER; When the Plane Is Really a Bus". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
- United Airlines - Seat maps and aircraft information – United Airlines. United.com. Retrieved on 2014-10-21.
- "United Airlines Fleet Plan April 2015". united.com. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network