Jettisoning Regional Jets
"The day of the regional jet is over," airline consultant Mike Boyd declared in a USA Today article. That news is both surprising, ...
"The day of the regional jet is over," airline consultant Mike Boyd declared in a USA Today article.
That news is both surprising, given that only two years ago airlines couldn't get enough of them, and disappointing to many midsize cities, which are likely to experience reductions in both service and competition.
As recently as January 2004, my Governing colleague Chris Swope wrote, "The planes, with 30 to 90 seats, are opening up new long-distance routes that never were economical before."
But since then, the economic winds have shifted: The soaring fuel-cost-to-passenger ratio and competition from low-cost carriers have wiped out small jets' profitability. In addition, financial turbulence in the airline industry has resulted in canceled orders and relegated many 50-seat RJs to storage in the desert.
For the moment, new-generation 70-seat jets are still viewed as viable and may keep the runways busy in some second-tier communities. But others will be forced to face the fact that airline service can evaporate almost as fast as a contrail.