American Airlines subsidiary Piedmont Airlines will boost its fleet by 15 Embraer E-145 planes late this summer. The regional jets will come over from another American Airlines subsidiary, Envoy Air. The new planes will see Piedmont’s total fleet increase by around 30% and boost the airline’s ability to service small and medium-sized cities out of American’s Charlotte and Philadelphia hubs.
Fleet reshuffle for American Airlines subsidiaries
Texas-based Envoy Air flies around 50 E-145s but also has over 100 ERJ-170 jets, making it around three times the size of its smaller American Airlines-owned sibling. The transfer represents a significant downgrading of the E-145’s role at Envoy. But on the same day that Piedmont Airlines announced its fleet increase, Envoy said it was not coming away empty-handed. Envoy Air also confirmed it would add 15 Embraer 170s to its fleet from November. The in-house switcheroo between Envoy and Piedmont reflects the growing role of the E170 jets in Dallas and the importance of the E-145s in American’s eastern hubs.
Envoy Air President and CEO Pedro Fábregas confirmed as much on Monday, saying the airline’s broader goal is to gradually replace all Embraer 145 aircraft and focus exclusively on larger regional jet (E170 / E175) operations over time.
“We are planning to transfer 15 E145s to Piedmont. The E170 and E175 constitute a single fleet type from an operational perspective, and this move will allow us to simplify everything from training to supply chain, operations and more. Today’s announcement will increase Envoy’s large regional jet fleet to 101 E175s and 27 E170s, “ Mr Fábregas said.
Envoy Air will increasingly focus on larger regional jet operations from its bases. Photo: Envoy Air
Stabilizing the workforce facilitates a fleet expansion
Both airlines play a vital role in American’s domestic network, operating feeder flights in and out of large hubs. Piedmont’s E-145s operate around 250 flights a day, while Envoy’s bigger fleet enables it to fly approximately 1,000 American Eagle-branded flights every day. Both airlines have also hit the headlines recently after offering massively improved salaries to attract and retain employees, including flight crews.
Envoy calls that strategy “investing in our people“while Piedmont says it is”investing in team members. “Like the terminology, the outcome is much the same. Having stabilized the workforce via those bumper pay increases and focusing on recruitment, the airlines are now better positioned to expand operations.
“Our Piedmont team’s outstanding performance throughout the pandemic period is being rewarded with a significant investment in the expansion and life of our fleet“says Piedmont Airlines CEO Eric Morgan. “With a strong increase in pilot hiring, including a significant number of Direct Entry Captains, we are confident we can continue to staff and reliably operate an expanded fleet.”
Piedmont Airlines and Envoy Air play important roles in providing American Airlines feeder flights in and out of big domestic hubs. Photo: Piedmont Airlines
“We are investing in our people, growing our large regional jet fleet, and continuing to hire the best of the best,” said Pedro Fábregas. “These three key measures lay the foundation for Envoy’s future and our position within the American Airlines Group. “
Both airline CEOS say the new planes are proof of their hiring drive, the decision to boost salaries, and making their airlines more employee-friendly was the right strategy. It may have cost millions in the short term, but the CEOs figure the airlines will reap the rewards in the medium and longer terms.