ExpressJet's New Service Aims to be a Time Saver

"In most of these markets you certainly wouldn't want a plane bigger than a 50-seater, and you certainly wouldn't want to fly it more than twice a day," Ream acknowledges.

In late 2005, Continental exercised a provision in its contract with ExpressJet to put 25% of the flying that ExpressJet had been doing for it out for bid.

Last April, Continental announced that Chautauqua Airlines would take over that flying in the spring and summer of this year.

ExpressJet had the option of returning the 69 planes that no longer would be flown under the Continental Express name to Continental, which owned the planes.

Instead, Ream, his management team and his board elected to keep those planes and to launch both an independent airline and a charter airline operation.

The comparisons between Independence Air and ExpressJet have Wall Street worried about the plan for scheduled air service.

Analyst Mike Linenberg at Merrill Lynch, which trades in and at times owns ExpressJet stock, has a sell rating on the airline's stock. And he recently cut his earnings forecast for 2007 to 30 cents a share from $1.10.

Linenberg frets that the costs associated with launching independent operations will be large and hard to control. Starting dates for ExpressJet service

*April 2: Austin; Boise; Kansas City; Omaha; Ontario, Calif.; San Antonio; Spokane, Wash.; Tucson.

*April 9: Sacramento.

*April 16: Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, Tulsa.

*April 30: Colorado Springs; Fresno; Corpus Christi, Texas.

*May 7: San Diego.

*May 14: Bakersfield and Monterey, Calif.; El Paso.

*Summer: Birmingham, Ala.; Raleigh, N.C.; Jacksonville; Louisville; New Orleans.

Source: ExpressJet

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