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US airline scope clauses pose challenges for United

Scope clauses have been a mainstay in US mainline pilot contracts as 50-seat, and then 70- to 76-seat, jets have permeated the US market place. There have been changes to scope over the years that have allowed American, Delta and United to add varying levels of larger regional jets based on certain percentages of their respective mainline fleets, and caps on the larger aircraft.

United Airlines has reached its cap for larger regional jets, and now is in the process of adding 50-seat regional jets as it works to become more competitive against its larger US rivals in the country’s domestic market.

It is a less than ideal scenario for United, but the airline is taking great care to stress that its ambitious earnings targets for 2020 are not based on changes to its scope clause.

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