United Airlines (UA, Chicago O’Hare) continues to evaluate small narrowbody jets seating between 100 and 120 passengers as a potential addition to the fleet but is not expecting to make any decision in this regard in the near future, Senior Vice-President (Finance) and Acting CFO Gerry Laderman has said during the half-yearly investors call.
“We’ve never actually stopped looking at that small narrowbody question. We’ve looked at it a few years ago, decided it’s not the time. We continue to look at it. I want to be cautious in my comments so I don’t have a line of manufacturers waiting for me outside this room when we’re done with the call,” Laderman said.
If ordered, the aircraft would fill the niche between the carrier’s A319-100s (of which it currently operates sixty-seven) and B737-700s (forty) on one hand and the smaller EMB-175s operated under the United Express brand by United’s partners.
Laderman did not disclose any preferred model but he did hint that fleet commonality would be a major issue for the carrier should it decide to add another type.
In any case, the 100-120-seater regional jets would have to be flown by the mainline unit as their Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) exceeds the 39,010 kilogramme limit for regional subsidiaries determined by the pilots’ scope clause.
President Scott Kirby added that the carrier’s cost structure currently does not support adding regional jets to the mainline unit as they can be much more efficiently operated by capacity providers under the United Express brand.