Regional airlines provide the only scheduled air service to 492 airports, about three quarters of the nation’s airports, linking these communities with the rest of the country and the rest of the world.
That’s why reliability is a core value of regional airlines. In fact, regional airlines fly more than half the scheduled passenger flights in the United States.
A Growing Industry
Regional airlines operate under the same stringent standards as mainline carriers, and our pilots must successfully complete the same training as pilots of larger airplanes. Meanwhile, the regional airline industry is growing, with the number of passengers we carry each year increasing from 77.6 million in 1999 to 159.3 million in 2008. During the same period, average trip length increased from 274 miles to 461 miles. In the last seven years, the regional airline fleet has risen from 2,274 airplanes to 2,743.
As a result of this growth, the regional jets that make up the vast majority of the regional airline fleet are much newer than the widebodies that make up the majority of the major airlines’ fleets.
America’s regional air carriers employ about 57,000 professionals, more than 90% of whom are represented by unions. Some regional airlines are publicly traded businesses, while others are wholly owned by their major airline parent, such as American Eagle. The largest regional airlines have revenues that exceed $1 billion per year.
Safety is our Business
Quite simply, flying safely is the first operating rule of every regional airline. “Good safety is good business,” says Regional Airline Association President Roger Cohen. “Virtually every dime that an airline spends except for the peanuts goes toward operating a safe airline.”
Flying Rescue Missions in Haiti
Many regional airlines are actively involved in earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. RAA is collaborating with aviation medical training and equipment provider MedAire to help member airlines fly relief missions to the devastated Caribbean island nation. In the week following the tragedy, Republic Airways lent an Embraer 170 jet to deliver 3,000 pounds of medical and surgical supplies to Port-au-Prince and then fly 53 orphaned children to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to receive medical attention. American Eagle has sent several aircraft on repeat missions to Haiti, delivering 80,000 pounds of relief supplies including food, water and other nonperishable goods for local hospitals and aid efforts.