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American planning bigger jets for CLT

American Airlines plans to add bigger jets and stop 10 daily regional jet flights between Charlotte Douglas International Airport and the airline’s hubs in Miami and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

The airline told employees of its plans in a newsletter on Thursday. “Making these changes will allow the new American to replace smaller regional aircraft with larger, more efficient mainline aircraft,” the company wrote.

US Airways and American merged in December. The companies are integrating their route networks, although they will continue to fly separately under their own names until they receive a single operating certificate from the federal government next year.

Here are the changes coming, starting June 1:

• US Airways will add two mainline flights a day between Charlotte and Miami, operated on Airbus A319s, A320s and A321s, for a total of nine daily flights. American will cease its five daily regional jet flights between the cities, which are operated on Embraer E-145 jets.

• The carrier will add three flights between Charlotte and Chicago on Airbus and Bombardier CRJ-900 jets, for a total of 11 daily flights. American will cease its five daily regional jet flights between Charlotte and Chicago, operated on E-145 jets.

The E-145 seats 50, so the effect of removing the five regional jet flights from Charlotte to Miami and Chicago will be to remove 250 seats in each market. But the extra capacity of two or three flights on larger, mainline jets would make up for that.

Fifty-seat regional jets have fallen out of favor with airlines because they are less fuel-efficient than large jets, and fuel is significantly more expensive than when most regional jets entered service. American has also been unable to reach a new contract with its American Eagle regional jet pilots.

Charlotte is the combined company’s second-busiest hub, behind Dallas/Fort Worth. American accounts for about 90 percent of daily flights at Charlotte Douglas.

Portillo: 704-358-5041; Twitter: @ESPortillo
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