United Express

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United Express
UAL Express.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
various various See Operators
Founded 1985; 33 years ago (1985)
Frequent-flyer program MileagePlus
Alliance Star Alliance (affiliate)
Fleet size 577
Parent company United Continental Holdings
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois
Key people Oscar Munoz (CEO)

United Express is the brand name for the regional branch of United Airlines, under which nine individually owned regional airlines operate short- and medium-haul feeder flights.

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.


United Express Logo (1985–1993)
United Express Logo (1993–1997)
United Express Logo (1997–2011)
A United Express Jetstream 31 in the 1993-2004 livery
A United Express CRJ-700 in the 2004-2011 livery

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.[1] 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 continued to do codeshare flights until they ceased operations in 2018.

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.[2] 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 announced a new Express focus city at San Antonio International Airport in 2006, but the experiment was short-lived.

United Express Bombardier CRJ 200s in the current livery

United decided to cancel Dash 8 and CRJ200 service with Mesa Airlines in November 2009,[3] on November 16, 2009 it was announced that ExpressJet would begin operating Embraer ERJ 145 beginning in the spring of 2010.[4] 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.[5]

By September 2016, Republic Airlines' Q400s were phased out of service, replacing them with 50 more Embraer E175s.[6]

On February 27, 2017, United Airlines announced the return of their partnership with Air Wisconsin as a United Express carrier, they would be flying a fleet of 65 Bombardier CRJ-200 beginning second-half 2017.

In September 2017, the Q300 was phased out and in January 2018, the Q200 was phased out, this leaves the ATR 42 as the only turboprop aircraft in the United Express fleet.

On April 16, 2018, United Airlines announced the end of its partnership with Cape Air. Services will end on May 31, 2018, which will mark the end of United Express operations in Guam, along with the retirement of the last turboprop aircraft in the United Express fleet.[7]


Bus service[edit]

United Express bus service connects Jack Brooks Regional Airport to George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). This service began after Colgan Air operated Saab 340 turboprop flights ended on July 1, 2012, and this bus service continues at present with several trips a day.[8]

United Express also has a bus service from Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE) near Allentown, Pennsylvania to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).[9] 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.[10] It is 79 miles (127 km) long. As of 1997 the service was eight times daily.[11] By February 2010 the bus was the only form of service offered by Continental after it cancelled its Allentown to Cleveland Hopkins Airport flights.[10]

Operators and fleet[edit]

As of April 2018, the combined United Express branded fleet currently consists of the following regional aircraft:[12][13]

United Express Fleet
Airline IATA Service ICAO Code Call Sign Parent Aircraft Number in Fleet Orders Passengers
F E+ E Total
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 25 6 44 50
ExpressJet EV ASQ Acey SkyWest, Inc. Embraer ERJ-135 3 6 31 37
Embraer ERJ-145 111 6 44 50
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
Embraer E-175 60 12 16 48 76
Republic Airline YX RPA Brickyard Republic Airways Holdings Embraer E-170 38 6 16 48 70
Embraer E-175 28 12 16 48 76
SkyWest Airlines OO SKW SkyWest SkyWest, Inc. Bombardier CRJ-200 78 50 50
Bombardier CRJ-700 19 6 16 48 70
Embraer E-175 65 12 16 48 76
Trans States Airlines AX LOF Waterski Trans States Holdings Embraer ERJ-145 37 6 44 50
Total 577

Accidents and incidents[edit]


External links[edit]