Trans States Airlines (AX, St. Louis Lambert Int'l) will wind down its operations by the end of the year due to "razor-thin" margins, United Airlines' decision to consolidate E145 operators, and a shortage of experienced pilots, Chief Executive Richard Leach announced in a memo to staff.

"Last year was an exceptionally challenging financial year, and early indications point to 2020 continuing down the same path. Given the reality of our challenges outlined above, coupled with United's desire to simplify and create critical mass, we have come to the extremely difficult decision that an organized and well-planned wind-down of the Trans States operation is the most viable course of action," Leach wrote.

According to the memo, the gradual shutdown will start before the summer 2020 season with completion expected before year-end.

"Trans States Airlines still has an extremely important role to play in the United network throughout the remainder of 2020, but you will see a measured reduction of aircraft come off-line before the start of summer flying," Leach added.

Leach also wrote that the airline did not have an alternative to the wind-down, as trying to reduce the scope of operations would "only make the economic equation more challenging".

Trans States' fate seems to have been sealed when ExpressJet Airlines (EV, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) announced that it would add thirty-six additional E145s to its fleet operated on behalf of United.

ExpressJet Airlines said that it will take the additional E145s over the next 12 months and that it will also invest in "a complete interior refresh of the E145 aircraft comprising new panels, new seats, LED lighting, and an industry-leading personal device entertainment system". It is negotiating a multi-year extension of its Capacity Purchase Agreement with United. Neither the regional capacity provider nor United Airlines itself confirmed the source of the E145s.

Trans States Airlines currently operates forty-six E145s for United. It owns seven of the aircraft and leases the remainder either from United (36) or Aviator Capital (three), the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows.

Trans States Airlines does not operate any other aircraft than the E145s flying for United. For its part, ExpressJet Airlines - which is owned by ManaAir, in which United is a minority shareholder - operates ninety-five E145s and twenty-five E175s for United Express. The airline said, however, that it will phase-out the E175s to "speed-up growth and become an efficient single-fleet airline".

Trans States Airlines is owned by Trans States Holdings, which also controls GoJet Airlines (G7, St. Louis Lambert Int'l) and Compass Airlines (United States of America) (CP, Minneapolis/St. Paul). The former provides capacity for both United and Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson), while the latter flies for Delta and American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth).