United looks at Mexico for large RJs

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United Airlines is looking to redeploy some of its large regional aircraft on routes to Mexico this year.

The Chicago-based carrier is focused on upgauging some of its flights between Houston Intercontinental and Mexico, says Brian Znotins vice-president of network at United.

United flies nonstop to 45 cities in Mexico from Houston, according to Innovata FlightMaps Analytics. More than 72% of flights on these routes are flown by 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145s with the balance flown by Airbus A320 family or Boeing 737 aircraft.

Jim Compton, chief revenue officer of United, said that the airline would focus on redeploying its fleet of 169 large regional aircraft among its domestic hubs this year, during an earnings call in January. The fleet includes 66-seat Bombardier CRJ700s, 74-seat Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s and 70-seat Embraer 170s.

Large regional jet flying was previously restricted from former Continental Airlines hubs in Cleveland, Houston and Newark due to scope clause restrictions in United's contract with its Continental subsidiary pilots. The airline's pilots ratified a new joint collective bargaining agreement that makes the redeployment possible in December.