Its always good for analysts when the US DoT data gets updated. They have just completed the final quarter for 2013 and we assembled for data on turboprops you might find interesting. Here are two charts that tell an interesting story.
Comparing costs per hour for the EMB120 and the Q400 show that the EMB120 is aging fast. The primary operator of the aircraft is SkyWest and these numbers cannot be making them happy. As a feeder airline to United and Delta, they need very low costs. The Q400, a much more modern but much larger turboprop, costs only slightly more to operate. There is unfortunately no reliable publicly available data on ATR turboprops in passenger use in the US.
Now take into account theses costs on a per seat basis, and you see how much more economically effective the Q400 really is. With more than double the number of seats, a Q400 costs between a third to one-half the cost of the EMB120 on a per passenger basis. With trip costs nearly the same, and additional profit potential from capacity, could the Q400 be a logical “step-up” replacement at Sky West?Airlines operating turboprops typically are at the most cost sensitive end of the food chain. As feeders, they typically are paid a fixed price for their service. Consequently we would expect these airlines to be the most cost sensitive. We therefore expect to see SkyWest looking for new turboprops very soon. The EMB-120s are beginning to show their age.