Regional carrier ExpressJet will be ending operations September 30, 2020 following a decision by United Airlines to use CommutAir as its sole express carrier at United’s hub in Houston. United’s decision was a result of the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic and the very low passenger volumes. ExpressJet’s Pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, dispatchers along with its training center at Houston’s Intercontinental airport will all be out of a job. With airports seeming like ghost towns at times during the day, all carriers including United have been forced to let go of many employees and trim the number of flights significantly. Currently, United is operating at about 45% of the normal amount of flights it usually operated at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Following ExpressJet’s bid for new contracts with United in June which it lost to CommutAir, the regional carrier notified the Texas Workforce Commission in July that it plans to lay off up to 1,202 people in Houston. The original end date was to be December 30, but with so much uncertainty, both United and ExpressJet agreed it would be better to end on Sept 30 as continued flying by ExpressJet could have put other ExpressJet business in financial jeopardy.
“The biggest problem for these new unemployed but highly skilled workers is that there isn’t another airline for them to be absorbed into, it’s not like the carrier went out of business but the other carriers are doing fine, no one is hiring in the airline business right now, everyone is suffering,” said Jamal Keeting, an aviation expert who advises airlines on economic strategies.
ExpressJet was partially owned by United Airlines, which gained that position following the merger with Continental Airlines as ExpressJet was owned by Continental Airlines. In 2002, ExpressJet was spun off from Continental Airlines with Continental continuing as a minority owner. The company has other business operations including the Saltillo Jet Center, and InTech Aerospace Services.