ExpressJet Ends Branded Service

The writing has been on the wall for quite awhile hasn’t it? In what has to be one of the most expected announcements in a long time, ExpressJet has now officially decided to end its branded operations on September 2.

We all know the story here. It’s fuel. I was a big fan of the idea behind ExpressJet from the beginning. There are opportunities out there for point-to-point service on smaller city pairs, but flying it as a brand new airline in 50 seat jets just didn’t work. I used to say that it might have worked as Southwest Express, because the power of the network would have helped significantly. With fuel above $4 a gallon, I can’t even imagine that working.

So, if you have tickets through September 1, you’re fine. In fact, you can still buy a seat on a flight until then. But after that, you’re going to have to call the airline for a refund. Hey, at least it’s a solvent airline that can actually refund your money.

At last check, there were 205 aircraft flying for Continental, 23 for Delta, 23 for the branded operation, and 23 for the corporate aviation group. We already know that they won’t be flying those 23 for Delta anymore, and now branded is gone, but they can only return 39 aircraft. This means that there will now be 30 planes flying for corporate aviation in addition to the 205 for Continental.

Anyway, I still think this idea can work some day, but we’ll need to see the price of fuel come down again. Next time, I’d probably try it with a Q400 turboprop or something, not that ExpressJet had that choice. This is a sad one for me, because I really liked flying the airline, and I think they had the right idea. It’s just the timing (and probably the airplane) that was wrong.

15 Responses to ExpressJet Ends Branded Service

  1. Raymond says:

    As someone who flew them from ONT to OMA on several occasions, I will miss them. Though somewhat of a schlepp to ONT from my LA home, it was always an easy airport to handle and the non-stop flight was worth the price.

    Back to connecting via Denver, Phoenix or Vegas

  2. Oliver says:

    This news is definately sad! I love ExpressJet too. For Sacramento, they brought many non-stops and it will be very sad to see them go. I’ve flown them a couple round trips and loved the product. The service was excellent! Even the ramp agents remembered and called me by name!

    I agree with you that writing was on the wall when fuel spiked to the prices today. The ERJ-145 is nice aircraft, but not for what fuel costs today.

  3. Oliver says:

    I hope there won’t be layoffs!

  4. Corey says:

    I don’t know if the RJ-145 was so much of a bad choice as their route map was. They were quite strong on the west coast and had decent load factors, especially in the last six months as the brand started getting out there and they announced more intra-California routes. I flew with XE several times, including SAN – BOI, ONT – BOI, and ONT – AUS. I don’t know that a Q400 could handle some of those longer legs like ONT – AUS. In any event, I think that they could’ve made it work with the west coast system and the RJ-145 if they had dropped JAX, MCI, RDU, and other midwest/east coast locales. Too bad, though, as I liked being able to book exit row (12A) in advance without a full Y fare.

  5. Gary says:

    even with all the kudos for service, you had to wonder. two words: “Independence Air.”

  6. Not surprised. But I have to agree with Corey on this one. When they first started, the ERJ145 was a great choice, but who knew that the price of fuel would nearly double so soon. Yet I agree that the Q400 would do well. Those planes sip fuel. I’m going to miss their extensive service from TUS.

  7. DRG says:

    I was more shocked by the misleading Reuters headline saying that “ExpressJet Suspending Commercial Operations.” No corrections later, either. Made my heart skip a beat!

  8. CF says:

    I knew I’d get an Independence Air comment on here. Let’s be clear. There is very little to no similarity between Independence and ExpressJet.

    *Independence chose to launch high frequency service from a central hub while ExpressJet chose to launch low frequency service on point to point routes

    *Independence launched flights in direct competition with United Airlines resulting in a tremendous increase in capacity while ExpressJet launched flights on routes that had no nonstop service from any other carrier

    *Independence threw it’s entire fleet into this operation resulting in a very fast ramp-up while ExpressJet only had a small portion of its fleet dedicated to the branded service for a more conservative start

    I’ve never understood the comparisons between these two at all, because the similarities are almost none.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Just to be clear and put assumptions aside, load factors for June ’08 were above 80% on branded! That’s awesome!

    Had oil remained at $60, even $80 a barrel when this little operation was conceived it would be expanding right now on profits!

    This operation is meeting and marginally exceeding expectations of load factor and market share, though in the current environment, not profits. There is no other airline/(jet)aircraft in this land of ours where this is not the case… accept SWA, whose margins are also slipping away.

    Expect to see a large presence of XJT Charter operations in the west coast.

    This information comes directly from the mouth of Jim Ream this afternoon in Houston, TX at a standing room only meeting with employees at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

    Personally, I buy into the future objectives of this company; generating future revenues from premier charter service THROUGHOUT the United States and neighboring territories/countries. The Cal CPA will keep the majority of XJT planes and employees busy.

    Should the bottom be in sight of this current economic crisis, expect both ExpressJet Charter, Continental Express and Continental Mainline to exceed industry standards and expectations.

    Should the price of oil continue to rise unchecked, the dollar continue to weaken, and international factors continue to escalate, expect NO US carrier to survive…. even the all mighty Southwest Airlines. They are not immune to the environment, only able to tread water a few moments longer than the competition.

  10. David SF east bay says:

    Gone are the days when there were a number of small carriers offering local/regional service. They were not the ‘big’ guys so it was more like flying with friends. They provided a good service in an easy friendly way. Everyone could name some in the area of the nation they live, but now we are heading to just one or two airlines in this country. We are to big for that to happen, but it gets harder every year for someone to offer a local product. The big guys run them out of business with over capacity and matching fares even if they loose money on every ticket. Once they are gone the big guy pulls out.
    It’s a shame.

  11. mechanic x says:

    here we go again with the independance air thing again. cranky is right, as usual. i really don’t think the planes are all that bad of a choice. i think it all just boils down to bad timing. flight loads were reaching the 80 percent mark, even more in a couple of cases. not bad for a startup after only one year. fuel is killing us all. sad, sad, sad. to any friends who went to the west coast to try and pull this off, my hat goes off to you. amazing job. hopefully, we’ll see you here back home on the job. good luck to you all.

    mechanic x

  12. Oliver says:

    I definately agree with the anonymous commenter. If oil was at prices when ExpressJet first started, they would really be in profits now. They have an outstanding product, and they had a sound business plan to provide service out here in the west.

  13. Susan says:

    I am extremely sorry to see this great airline go. Gone are the days when you can actually have leg room, no elbows in your side, friendly people, pilots who actually talk to you and most of all DIRECT/NO STOP flights without having to pay enormous prices and then getting only peanuts or crackers. I will miss this perfect airline and will be first in line when they emerge from the ashes again. Thank you ExpressJet – wings well flown.

  14. Stbgta (soon to be getting tire again) says:

    One of the best air service (logistic and personal) I ever had (expect for fist class on “foreign” carrier)…comfort of seat and extras were almost on the same level as B class on major domestic airlines, go figure.

    Now I have to deal with cattle bus southwest and other cranky domestic carriers and non-direct fly and already feeling cramps everywhere and tired.

    I am very disappointed to see this excellent airline going away. Hopefully you rise again in future and I will be the first one to get on the plane again.

    Great Job you did for “average, common” flyers.

  15. Herkemer says:

    As a soon to be former employee of this airline, the comments are great to hear. I had the pleasure of starting up ONT on day one and closing GEG on the final day, and it was by far the best experience I’ve had in my almost 10 years in the industry. Both airline employees and passengers were second to none!

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