Saturday, July 18, 2009

Who's That? Part 9 - the Regionals Revealed (and revised)

Once again, I've underestimated the amount of work required to assemble the answer section of this week's edition, as demonstrated by its sheer volume. Especially since, not ten minutes after I hit the 'publish' button, I had a couple of ideas for revisions. But, finally, here it is. Enjoy!

Mesa Airlines (callsign: Air Shuttle) is a regional carrier that flies as US Airways Express out of Phoenix. Seen here in the first photo in a 50-seat CRJ2, pulling into Terminal 1's Gate 6 next to a US Airways A321, they also bring in 86-seat CRJ9s, shown in the second shot at Gate 10, next to another A321 (183 seats). In other markets, Mesa flies for other airlines, including United and Delta; while other carriers operate as US Airways Express. A couple of years ago, they also had a limited United presence here, which could create some confusion for the ground controllers at night (when the paint schemes are invisible), since United and US Airways are on opposite sides of the airport. Fortunately, that operation didn't last long.

Indianapolis-based Republic Airlines (callsign: Brickyard) was flying the daily Midwest flight to Kansas City during the winter, using E170s as Midwest Connect. Republic Airlines is owned by parent company Republic Airways, an airline holding company that also owns Midwest and Frontier, among others. The E170 has 76 seats, as compared to Midwest's B717, which has 99. The B717s will eventually be replaced with the E170's larger sibling, the E190 (seating capacity 100), which we already see at LAX in Air Canada colors - but flown by mainline Air Canada; in the picture below the two middle aircraft are E190s (93 seats), sandwiched between a pair of A319s (120 seats).

Aeromexico Connect (callsign: Costera) is a subsidiary of Aeromexico, and serves as a 'minor league' for future Aeromexico pilots - all Aeromexico pilots start out flying at AeroLitoral, which is Connect's actual name. Other carriers do the same sort of thing, but as far as I know Aeromexico only hires from its Connect pilot pool, whereas the major carriers in the US do not limit themselves to only hiring from their regional partners. Costera pilots rank just about at the bottom of the list as far as many LAX controllers are concerned; I've witnessed a number of situations where they caused or nearly caused runway incursions and/or go-arounds because the pilots couldn't understand what they were being told to do or just wouldn't do it. Fortunately, they only come in once or twice a day. To their credit, mainline Aeromexico is not nearly so bad.
Costera used to operate Saab 340s, but now only brings in 50-seat E145s.

American Eagle (callsign: Eagle Flight) is made up of three carriers, all of whom are subsidiaries of AMR, the parent company of American Airlines; and is considered to be the world's largest regional carrier system. Eagle operates a small hub at LAX, using 44-seat E140s. For a while, we had one flight a day from/to Fayetteville, Arkansas, that used a CRJ7, as seen in the second photo. This flight disappeared a few months ago, and now Allegiant serves that route. Eagle also used to operate Saab 340s here, but those thankfully all disappeared last fall. Unlike all the other regional carriers at LAX, Eagle does not park at the main terminal complex in the center of the airport. Instead, they have their own terminal adjacent to the American Airlines maintenance facility. Passengers are shuttled from Terminal Four's Gate 44, which is in reality a bus stop, shown in the third and fourth photos - the concrete baricades mark the walkway to the buses, between gates 42B and 46A. You can see the buses at the north end of the Eagle terminal (the right side of the last photo). In that same photo, the red and white piece of equipment on the service road is one of the tugs that work the A380.

Horizon Air (callsign: Horizon) is owned by Alaska Airlines' parent company, Alaska Air Group, and is based in Seattle. At one point they flew regional jets for Frontier, although not out of LAX. When that relationship ended, the Frontier-liveried aircraft occasionally showed up here on one of the regular Horizon/Alaska flights. Horizon flies Dash-8s and CRJ-700s. The Dash-8s seat 76, while the CRJ7s seat 70 and are gradually being phased out in favor of the Dash-8s. Horizon's logo, which looks to me like a funky "Q", is actually a stylized setting sun. In the last shot, which is probably a year old, you can also see an Eagle Saab 340.

Air Canada Jazz (callsign: Jazz), Canada's largest regional carrier, is based in Halifaz, Nova Scotia, although they come to LAX from Edmonton once a day. Jazz uses what appear to be CRJ9s, but are actually CRJ-705s; essentially -900s with reduced seating capacity of 75. For quite a while, this was the only service to/from Edmonton, but WestJet has recently added a flight to Edmonton, using 136-seat B737s.

From June, 2007, through the end of August, 2008, Houston-based ExpressJet Airlines (callsign: Jetlink) operated a Delta Connection hub at LAX, using 50-seat E145s and E145XRs. Most of these were in Delta's new 'lazy widget' livery, but occasionally one would show up in ExpressJet's own colors. During the same time period, ExpressJet also had their own branded airline operation, with a hub at LA/Ontario airport. This was also shut down last September, leaving just their Continental Express operations (although not here) and their charter operation under their own brand (the green-tailed livery in the last two shots). Coincidentally, my latest trainee is a former Jetlink pilot who was furloughed last fall when they reduced their operations. The second shot is a good opportunity to compare the Embraer ERJ against the Bombardier (Challenger) CRJ; that's a SkyWest CRJ7 in United colors with a Jetlink E145 in Delta livery. The E145XR can be differentiated from the other ERJs by its winglets and ventral fins beneath the tail. Likewise, a CRJ9 can be differentiated from the slightly smaller CRJ7 by its ventral tail fins, along with the -9's two over-wing exits, to the -7's one. For comparison, the third shot shows a mainline Delta MD90, which seats 150.

SkyWest Airlines (callsign: Skywest) is based in St. George, Utah, and flies out of LAX as both Delta Connection and United Express, although mostly the latter, in conjunction with United's hub here. For Delta, they operate CRJ2s, -7s, and -9s (50, 66,and 76 seats, respectively), all to/from the Delta hub in Salt Lake City. For United, they fly 30-seat E120s, along with CRJ2s and -7s. Most of these are painted in the respective mainline carrier's livery, but there are a few in SkyWest company colors; the last picture shows E120s in all three schemes we see at LAX for United-affiliated flights. Since United and Delta are on the same side of the airport at adjacent terminals, and the flight numbers for the Delta and United SkyWest flights are usually completely different, our ground controllers normally aren't challenged by where to take SkyWest airplanes.


  1. I happened upon your blog because I have a google news/blogs alert for "Mesa Airlines." I like your blog and will keep checking back. Hello from South Carolina!

  2. wow thats funny i searched Mesa Airlines too and this is how i got here and then i read you comment Candice and u searched the same thing.