American Airlines Adds Air Wisconsin Regional Flights

American Airlines Adds Air Wisconsin Regional Flights

26

American Airlines has revealed a new partnership with Air Wisconsin. While more regional capacity is a good thing, there are also somethings to not look forward to here…

Air Wisconsin will fly CRJ-200s for American Eagle

We’re currently dealing with a pilot shortage in the United States, which is having the greatest impact on regional airlines. This has caused service to many smaller markets to be cut, as there simply aren’t enough pilots to operate all regional jets.

This is an issue for the major legacy airlines, as service to small markets is a key part of the overall hub & spoke business model. American Airlines has just announced a new five year partnership for regional flying, which helps address this issue.

Air Wisconsin will be doing some flying on behalf of American Eagle, which is American’s regional subsidiary. Air Wisconsin will fly up to 60 CRJ-200 aircraft on behalf of American Eagle. The service is expected to start by March 2023, and will be focused primarily on American’s Chicago O’Hare (ORD) hub.

It’s normal for regional airlines to operate on behalf of multiple airlines. It’s interesting to see the way Air Wisconsin has bounced around over time. Back in the day Air Wisconsin operated for US Airways Express, then for American Eagle, then for United Express, and now Air Wisconsin is going back to American Eagle.

Air Wisconsin previously operated for United Express

Why I’m not excited about Air Wisconsin CRJ-200s

There are a couple of things that make this development noteworthy. First of all, most airlines have been phasing out 50-seat jets, and in particular the CRJ-200. American Eagle had completely phased out the CRJ-200 as of early 2020, when partner PSA stopped flying CRJ-200s around the start of the pandemic.

The CRJ-200 is my least favorite regional jet, plain and simple. The plane has a capacity for 50 passengers, and the cabin is in a 2-2 configuration, with no first class. When it comes to 50-seat regional jets, I far prefer the Embraer ERJ-145, as the cabin is in a 1-2 configuration.

I prefer the ERJ-145 to the CRJ-200

While American Eagle also operates CRJ-700s and CRJ-900s, these planes generally have a first class cabin, so at least it’s potentially a more comfortable ride.

Furthermore, it has been years since I’ve flown with Air Wisconsin, though going back a decade I flew on Air Wisconsin regional flights all the time. At the time I remember Air Wisconsin being one of the least reliable regional operators. I’m not sure how the airline is doing nowadays, but I’m certainly skeptical of the company’s operational reliability.

Bottom line

Air Wisconsin will start doing some regional flying on behalf of American Airlines’ regional subsidiary, American Eagle. The service is expected to start by March 2023, primarily out of Chicago O’Hare, using CRJ-200 aircraft. While American having access to more regional planes is a good thing, I can’t say I’m particularly excited about CRJ-200s being reintroduced to the American Eagle fleet.

What do you make of Air Wisconsin flying on behalf of American Eagle?

Conversations (26)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Chelle T Guest

    You said it has been years since you have flown with Air Wisconsin (over a decade ago) and remember Air Wisconsin being one of the least reliable regional operators. Maybe you should have flown with them again before expressing your thoughts and feelings or even check on the operational stats. Air Wisconsin has very reliable operations. Yes the 50 seater 2-2 makes for a cozy flight sometimes but it is a regional. And they have...

    You said it has been years since you have flown with Air Wisconsin (over a decade ago) and remember Air Wisconsin being one of the least reliable regional operators. Maybe you should have flown with them again before expressing your thoughts and feelings or even check on the operational stats. Air Wisconsin has very reliable operations. Yes the 50 seater 2-2 makes for a cozy flight sometimes but it is a regional. And they have fantastic crew members on every flight. They really care about the safety, customer service and on time flights. In this world today let's try a little less negativity. Thank you.

  2. Goforride Member

    I also wonder if the long term plan is to get the now very expensive to operate Envoy Air out of the 50-seater business. The planes being added from ZW just about equals out to the number of remain EMB-145's Envoy will have after it transfers some to PI.

    This would be a pretty smart way to lower the 50-seater costs.

  3. Goforride Member

    This is bizarre. They must have gotten a pretty good deal from Air Wis since UA cut them loose and their planes are old, nasty, and the airline has no future.

    That said, even with the ZW pilots presumably not being paid as much as the AAE ones, this has to be an expensive way to add capacity out of ORD, where AA was already losing money before Covid.

    From UA's standpoint, it's consistent with...

    This is bizarre. They must have gotten a pretty good deal from Air Wis since UA cut them loose and their planes are old, nasty, and the airline has no future.

    That said, even with the ZW pilots presumably not being paid as much as the AAE ones, this has to be an expensive way to add capacity out of ORD, where AA was already losing money before Covid.

    From UA's standpoint, it's consistent with their plans to reduce their 50-seaters. When UA said it was going to do a "refresh" of Commutair's EMB-145's and there wasn't a peep about ZW's CRJ's, you knew the handwriting was on the wall.

  4. Matt Guest

    Air Wisconsin is the worst regional carrier out them all. the DRJ200 are terrible in terms of reliability and passenger comfort. The seats are cramped and none are equipped with wi-fi either. UA had at least use them for some long routes as well in terms of regional flights. Worst regional carrier.

    1. Phillard Milmore Guest

      If you were important enough to *need* wifi on a flight under an hour, you'd be able to afford to fly private...and this wouldn't even be a conversation.

  5. u600213 Guest

    UA is my primary airline.

    Good riddance to United Express operated by Air Wisconsin CRJ200.

    I really liked when Air Wisconsin had BAE146 and provided United ground service at SGF, but no love for the devils chariot. AA can have them.

  6. ML Guest

    Just in regards to your operational reliability statement: Air Wisconsin has led all UAX operators in reliability ( as measured by D:0) for the last 6 months. Maybe do some research before bad mouthing a very hard working group of aviation professionals.

    1. Goforride Member

      Of course D:0 has as much to do with the ground handling, which is not handled by ZW, as it does with the actual operation of the plane.

    2. Chelle T Guest

      Absolutely correct! Thank you. And without flying with them for a decade how can the comments even be made. SMH

  7. D3kingg Guest

    I like flying on these small planes especially if you’re in taxiing alongside a 777 or vice versa on a 777 looking down at the pencil it’s comical.

  8. JC Guest

    I find it rather hard to believe you ever took Air Wisconsin, even a decade ago, "all the time."

    1. D3kingg Guest

      @JC

      I think I remember the University of Wisconsin kids flying Air Wisconsin out of LGA in the 2000s.

  9. Cherie Martinez Guest

    Problem with the Emb 145. It’s weight restricted especially when need extra fuel for weather.

  10. Tim Dunn Diamond

    The most remarkable part of all of this is not the comfort level of the CRJ but that the economics will almost certainly not work esp. at Chicago. American's regional jet subsidiaries are offering pilot pay that is comparable to mainline pilot pay; obviously mainline pilot costs are spread across a whole lot more passengers.
    Add in that AA is doing this in Chicago - a highly competitive hub with United where the entire...

    The most remarkable part of all of this is not the comfort level of the CRJ but that the economics will almost certainly not work esp. at Chicago. American's regional jet subsidiaries are offering pilot pay that is comparable to mainline pilot pay; obviously mainline pilot costs are spread across a whole lot more passengers.
    Add in that AA is doing this in Chicago - a highly competitive hub with United where the entire airport is on track to become the most expensive airport in the US based on cost per enplaned passenger due to all of the construction and connecting passengers through Chicago on a regional jet is a money-losing proposition.
    The only reason AA is doing this is because they cannot afford to give up on their Chicago.
    The answer for regional jets is the small mainline jet = the 717 at Delta which is being supplemented by the A220 but neither American or United are interested in that class of jet so they will fight to keep their regional operations afloat by pouring more and more money into RJ flying.

    Southwest figured out a long time ago that it isn't worth serving cities that can't fill a 737 size aircraft.
    The regional jet era is coming to a close and yet American clings to the notion that serving hundreds more cities and using regional jets on many of those flights will give it an advantage; what is most likely is that this is yet another of AA's major strategic mistakes.

    1. dfw88 Guest

      A few problems here:
      1. AA's recent increase in regional pilot pay was for their wholly-owned subsidiaries. ZW is not one of those, so we have no idea what the financial structure of this deal looks like.
      2. The assumption that the regional flights don't do well is extremely misguided. Looking at a regional flight from ORD to AZO (or pick your favorite small midwestern town) is useless. The metric that airlines care...

      A few problems here:
      1. AA's recent increase in regional pilot pay was for their wholly-owned subsidiaries. ZW is not one of those, so we have no idea what the financial structure of this deal looks like.
      2. The assumption that the regional flights don't do well is extremely misguided. Looking at a regional flight from ORD to AZO (or pick your favorite small midwestern town) is useless. The metric that airlines care about is not the money made on that particular flight, but how having that flight adds revenue to the entire network. As someone who has a far better idea than you what works on AA and what doesn't, let me just say that the regionals are not nearly as bad as you always claim they are. Most of them are rather profitable, when viewed through the correct lens. For an airline focused on running a network, rather than a spaghetti-pile of point to point flights, the flight level view is useless.
      3. In light of point 2, this comment "The only reason AA is doing this is because they cannot afford to give up on their Chicago" is completely false. They're doing it because UA and DL are giving up on regional routes in the area and AA sees a chance to claim some of them for themselves. Again, those regional routes add plenty of revenue to the system, so this seems like a smart play.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      IF there was money to be made, other airlines would be adding their own flights using aircraft that make economic sense. The fact that the number of small city flights is dropping is indication that there are not alternatives.
      In a labor market such as exists for pilots, one company cannot pay its pilots less and expect to remain staffed. We are seeing pilots leaving even JetBlue and Spirit and Frontier for the big...

      IF there was money to be made, other airlines would be adding their own flights using aircraft that make economic sense. The fact that the number of small city flights is dropping is indication that there are not alternatives.
      In a labor market such as exists for pilots, one company cannot pay its pilots less and expect to remain staffed. We are seeing pilots leaving even JetBlue and Spirit and Frontier for the big 4 so to think that regional carriers are going to retain pilots when they pay less than other regional carriers doesn't make economic sense.
      It also doesn't make economic sense to run one segment of an itinerary at a loss in order to gain a passenger on a mainline flight out of a hub. It simply does not and never will when other airlines manage to fill their mainline planes with connecting passengers that are profitable.

      May I remind you that AA has sat at the bottom of industry profitability for years. The encouraging part is that UA actually posted lower margins than AA the most recent quarter and B6 and NK didn't even make money but AA has made a LOT of strategic mistakes for years to end up at the bottom of the industry's profitability.

  11. GetReal Guest

    Good riddance. These birds are old and tired. A big win for UA flyers.

  12. Stuart Guest

    C'mon, give the CRJ just a little respect. Before it there were absurd props that were noisy, turbulent, and completely uncomfortable. If not for the CRJ we would have never seen regional jets evolve to where they are now. But, agreed, their time has come to step down. I still have a soft spot for them in how they revolutionized flying into smaller markets.

  13. George Romey Guest

    Makes an Oasis 738 look and feel like a luxury liner.

  14. CHRIS Guest

    Looks like the back of my neck is going to be hurting again

  15. SMR Guest

    No reason to dislike these birds. If you live in or need to get to remote towns , the last thing you want to see is less CRJs. They are amazing little jets with a high MMO. I get it the seats are tiny but let’s face it … it’s amazing we can get around the country to such remote places so quickly. We take transport for granted. Even with delays and cancellations. E145does win though between the two.

    1. Goforride Member

      I can't imagine where AA will fly an additional 60 CRJ's out of ORD.

  16. Jim Guest

    Premium cabins notwithstanding, there's a significant interior difference between the CR2 and CR7/9/10 - the height of the cabin floor. The cabin floor is a few inches lower within the fuselage for the larger CRJs, making it feel far less cramped, and (added bonus) putting the window at a height where many adults can see out.

    That said, I, too, find the ERJ-145 to be more comfortable than the CRJ-200. But, none of the airlines...

    Premium cabins notwithstanding, there's a significant interior difference between the CR2 and CR7/9/10 - the height of the cabin floor. The cabin floor is a few inches lower within the fuselage for the larger CRJs, making it feel far less cramped, and (added bonus) putting the window at a height where many adults can see out.

    That said, I, too, find the ERJ-145 to be more comfortable than the CRJ-200. But, none of the airlines I use in the United States still fly the ERJ-145. Alas.

    1. Chris_ Member

      I agree about the experience in Y being about the same on all of those jets - but the premium cabin makes all the difference!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

dfw88 Guest

A few problems here: 1. AA's recent increase in regional pilot pay was for their wholly-owned subsidiaries. ZW is not one of those, so we have no idea what the financial structure of this deal looks like. 2. The assumption that the regional flights don't do well is extremely misguided. Looking at a regional flight from ORD to AZO (or pick your favorite small midwestern town) is useless. The metric that airlines care about is not the money made on that particular flight, but how having that flight adds revenue to the entire network. As someone who has a far better idea than you what works on AA and what doesn't, let me just say that the regionals are not nearly as bad as you always claim they are. Most of them are rather profitable, when viewed through the correct lens. For an airline focused on running a network, rather than a spaghetti-pile of point to point flights, the flight level view is useless. 3. In light of point 2, this comment "The only reason AA is doing this is because they cannot afford to give up on their Chicago" is completely false. They're doing it because UA and DL are giving up on regional routes in the area and AA sees a chance to claim some of them for themselves. Again, those regional routes add plenty of revenue to the system, so this seems like a smart play.

2
George Romey Guest

Makes an Oasis 738 look and feel like a luxury liner.

2
JC Guest

I find it rather hard to believe you ever took Air Wisconsin, even a decade ago, "all the time."

1
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,788,713 Miles Traveled

27,627,500 Words Written

32,315 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT