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September 12, 2012

Eagle won't fly American feed out of LAX, closing pilot and flight attendant base

With the announcement on Wednesday morning that SkyWest will be handling some regional flying for American Airlines, regional carrier American Eagle said it will be closing its pilots and flight attendant base in Los Angeles and will no longer provide 44-seat aircraft service for American Airlines out of LAX.

In a letter sent to employees, American Eagle chief executive Dan Garton said Eagle will continue to provide regional feed with the CRJ-700 out of Los Angeles, using flight crews from Chicago.

Skywest's carrier, ExpressJet, will have a small portion of the flying out of Dallas/Fort Worth airport starting on February 14, Garton said. 

With the changes at Los Angeles and DFW Garton said he does not anticipate any furloughs and will offer positions throughout the system to employees that might be impacted.

"So, why is all of this change happening at once? Judge Lane’s decision to allow American to reject its pilots’ contract means that American will be relieved from certain scope provisions that only allowed American Eagle to provide regional feed. American sent out an RFP earlier in the year in anticipation of the return of the ATRs, but couldn’t act on that RFP until now. Additionally, over the last few months American has indicated that it is going through a rebranding exercise. As a result of this, American will soon discontinue the use of the AmericanConnection brand and will use the American Eagle brand for all of its regional flying. Although we all share a pride with the American Eagle name, the name and the brand belong to AMR, and it is not surprising that American would want to have a consistent brand for all of its regional flying – just as all other mainlines have one brand for their regional partners. So, for now, we will continue to be American Eagle Airlines, but over the coming months we will be looking into creating a new name and identity for our company and our people," Garton said in the letter.

Garton added that American Eagle will begin recalling all of its furloughed pilots on Wednesday and anticipate hiring pilots. The carrier is currently hiring flight attendants, mechanics and ground employees.

Keep reading for the full letter.

-Andrea Ahles

Dear Eagle and Executive Colleagues:

Today, American Airlines announced the addition of two new regional carriers to its network – SkyWest Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines. These companies were awarded contracts as the successful bidders in the RFP process American announced and initiated earlier in the year. American has awarded flying for a total of 23 50-seat regional jets to be operated out of Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth. This development is consistent with American’s plan to diversify its regional feed as part of its business plan to emerge from restructuring as a much stronger airline. Additionally, for the first time, this flying will be done by non-affiliate regional partners under the stronger American Eagle brand and livery – not the AmericanConnection brand and livery.

For us, this is again, more change. And change is never easy.

As a result of the awarding of this bid, we will no longer provide American with 44-seat regional feed out of Los Angeles (LAX). SkyWest will now do this regional flying for American at LAX, beginning Nov. 15. This will unfortunately mean the closure of the LAX pilot and flight attendant domiciles, as well as a reduction in the number of M&E, stores and management positions at LAX. However, American has asked us to continue to provide regional feed with the CRJ-700 out of LAX, with Eagle’s Chicago crews. We will also continue to provide ground handling services for all of American’s regional operations at LAX, including ground handling of SkyWest. We do not anticipate any furloughs as a result of the downsizing at LAX, as there are vacancies throughout the rest of the system for employees in all workgroups.

As part of the bid, ExpressJet was also awarded a small portion of 50-seat flying out of Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW). This flying will begin with the Feb. 14, 2013 schedule change. As is the case at LAX, American has asked us to continue providing ground handling services for all of its regional operations at DFW. We don’t know how other aspects of the ExpressJet flying will affect our operations, but some impact to our employees and our schedule should be expected. However, we do not anticipate any furloughs, and will offer positions throughout our system to any employee who may be impacted.

And, as previously announced, American has negotiated the early return of the ATRs. This fleet is old, and there are very high maintenance and leasing costs associated with these aircraft. This action will result in the closure of the Miami (MIA) Executive pilot and flight attendant domiciles on Nov. 15. However, all Executive pilots and flight attendants will be able to use their seniority to bid for positions at American Eagle – including positions at MIA. We do not foresee any furloughs as a result of this displacement. We do anticipate that American Eagle will be providing more regional jet flying out of MIA to replace some of the discontinued ATR flying. Additionally, all MIA and Key West Executive employees will become American Eagle employees as of Jan. 1, 2013.

So, why is all of this change happening at once? Judge Lane’s decision to allow American to reject its pilots’ contract means that American will be relieved from certain scope provisions that only allowed American Eagle to provide regional feed. American sent out an RFP earlier in the year in anticipation of the return of the ATRs, but couldn’t act on that RFP until now. Additionally, over the last few months American has indicated that it is going through a rebranding exercise. As a result of this, American will soon discontinue the use of the AmericanConnection brand and will use the American Eagle brand for all of its regional flying. Although we all share a pride with the American Eagle name, the name and the brand belong to AMR, and it is not surprising that American would want to have a consistent brand for all of its regional flying – just as all other mainlines have one brand for their regional partners. So, for now, we will continue to be American Eagle Airlines, but over the coming months we will be looking into creating a new name and identity for our company and our people. I’ll let you know the progress of this rebranding effort as it continues to develop.

I do not want to diminish the impact these changes may have on us, but with a successful restructuring, we can have a bright future. We will still continue to be the main provider of regional feed for American in Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Chicago and New York. Later today, we will begin the process of recalling all of our furloughed pilots, and we anticipate hiring pilots soon. We currently are hiring flight attendants, mechanics and hundreds of ground employees needed to staff the new ground handling contracts.

Now, more than ever, it is critically important that we complete our restructuring. This includes achieving consensual, ratified agreements with our labor unions in order to be in a position to participate in any large regional jet flying that American will be seeking in the future. Likewise, it is more important than ever that we maintain our performance and prove every day that we are a worthy partner for American and other mainline carriers.

This is an extraordinary company with extraordinary people. There is no doubt in my mind that even though these changes are challenging, we will be in a better position to win more business from American in the future.

Thank you for your continued hard work. Together we will redefine our company and continue to build a successful future by incorporating the values and culture of our proud past.

Regards, Dan

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Comments

AMRfan

This is a shame. American Eagle has such good customer "service" that I will really miss flying their friendly skies.

Rico Thomasson

This is just so stupid, the future of aivation is in the toilet... sorry porta-potty.

Budda Eatme

Usairways is in the process of buying American

John S

I agree - a true shame. Eagle is by far the best of the regional airlines, in my experience anyway.

I can understand why Arpey was so opposed to filing for bankruptcy protection for so long. The process just upends everything in your business.

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