United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) has told two of its regional capacity providers, ExpressJet Airlines (EV, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) and CommutAir (C5, Cleveland Hopkins), that it will end its capacity purchase agreement with one of them going forward, Reuters has reported citing union letters.

United Airlines holds minority stakes in both airlines (directly in CommutAir and through ManaAir, a joint venture with KAir Enterprises, in ExpressJet), which, in turn, operate exclusively on behalf of United under the United Express brand. As such, the loss of the CPA with United could herald major problems for the carrier in question.

United admitted that as a result of COVID-19, it has had to cut its schedules and costs across the board and anticipates the pandemic will continue to impact its relationships with its regional partners.

CommutAir and ExpressJet cover the same market segment as they both operate E145 regional jets on behalf of United Airlines. According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, CommutAir currently operates thirty-eight EMB-145XRs, while ExpressJet Airlines operates fifty EMB-145LRs, fifty-eight XRs, as well as thirteen ERJ 170-200LLs.

According to the union letter, United pointed out that ExpressJet Airlines' costs are currently higher than CommutAir's.

Besides the two E145 specialists, United Express flights are also operated by Air Wisconsin, GoJet Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Republic Airways, and SkyWest Airlines. However, none of the other capacity providers operates E145s and none is part-owned by United Airlines.