North American regional carrier ExpressJet Airlines has agreed to expand its United Express fleet with 36 Embraer ERJ145 aircraft.

With this addition, ExpressJet Airlines will become the largest operator of the 50-seat Embraer ERJ145 aircraft worldwide. The airline flies under the United Express brand.

The new Embraer ERJ145 aircraft will join the fleet over the next year, following which the number of ERJ145s in the fleet will increase to more than 125.

ExpressJet Airlines chairman and CEO Subodh Karnik said: “United’s trust in ExpressJet is a testament to the dedication and adaptability of ExpressJet’s employees.

“Growing our fleet and upgrading the ERJ145s embodies our vision: ‘To be the United Express carrier that best understands and fulfils the needs of United Airlines.’”

The two companies are also working on establishing a long-term extension of the ExpressJet Capacity Purchase Agreement with United Airlines.

If agreed on the long-term commitment to the Embraer ERJ145, ExpressJet will also expand its crew bases and facilities at United hubs, including Denver.

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The agreement will also see ExpressJet modernise its fleet by retiring its small fleet of E175 aircraft to become a single-fleet airline.

The company will also invest in the ERJ145 by upgrading the aircraft with new panels, new seats and LED lighting.

United Express senior vice-president Sarah Murphy said: “We have made the long-term commitment to the Embraer ERJ145 and designed the comprehensive cabin, seat, and entertainment upgrade to deliver a contemporary customer experience.

“We’re confident that our partners at ExpressJet can execute that vision.”

In a separate development, ExpressJet Airlines announced an increment to its pilot bonus programme. Up to $40,000 will be offered to qualified pilot captains when they complete training with ExpressJet.