NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – American Airlines has signed an agreement with SkyWest Airlines to take over the operation of dozens of regional flights currently handled by American Eagle.
The four-year contract begins in November with the first flights going out of Los Angeles. A few months later the SkyWest run American Eagle flights will begin taking off from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
“We know DFW will start in the January 2013 time-frame,” SkyWest CFO Michael Kraupp explained. “We will start with five aircraft operating and then we’ll add the additional six aircraft in February.”
The parent company of American Airlines and American Eagle, Fort Worth-based American Airlines announced the deal that will have 23 Bombardier regional jets operating under the American Eagle banner.
Kraupp said passengers shouldn’t notice any difference in service, only cosmetic changes to planes.
“We’ll carry the American Eagle designation, but usually own at the bottom of them [planes]. On the door it would indicate Operated By ExpressJet Airlines or SkyWest Airlines,” Kraupp said. “What our missions and focus is, is again to be an extension of our major partner and we’d like to carry that on in branding and everything else we do.
But the American Eagle “designation” is in danger. A memo sent out by AMR Eagle president and CEO Dan Garton clearly stated that the company would, at least for now, still use the American Eagle brand for regional flying. But Garton explained the American Eagle brand and name belong to AMR so American Eagle will soon be looking to create a new name and identity.
As for the SkyWest/American Eagle jets they will be small — with a 50-seat capacity. Kraupp said the deal could actually be good news for regional airports that were in danger of losing flights.
“With American choosing to retire, on an early basis, smaller gauge, less than 50-seat type of capacity, we’ll be able to provide good and reliable service to those communities that American wants us to fly into.”
AMR Corp., which is the parent company of American Airlines and American Eagle, filed for bankruptcy protection last November.
Utah-based SkyWest also has a deal with US Airways, which is currently in talks with bankrupt American about a possible merger.