AA spokesman: Pilot contract won’t affect flights out of Roswell

February 25, 2014 • Local News

Troubles with the pilot union won’t affect American Eagle flights out of Roswell International Air Center, according to a spokesman for American Airlines.

However, Fort Worth, Texas-based American Eagle is warning that it expects to have trouble recruiting pilots because the American Airlines subsidiary is likely to have fewer planes.

That is the fallout after leaders of the Air Line Pilots Association chapter rejected a contract offer from the company.

Matt Miller, spokesman for American Airlines, said the company does [auth] not anticipate any impact to Roswell’s American Eagle service or elsewhere.

“American Airlines provides regional service through a number of different carriers, and we don’t anticipate anything changing,” Miller said.

There are three daily American Eagle flights from Roswell to Dallas, and that service is not contingent upon pilot agreement being reached, Miller said. “We have more than just American Eagle providing service.”

In a letter to pilots, Eagle’s vice president of flight, Jim Winkley, said that after the rejection, American won’t give Eagle the 60 new Embraer aircraft it recently ordered and will place those planes with another regional airline. American is likely to give Eagle’s Bombardier jets to another carrier too, he said.

Winkley said that Eagle expects to get fewer applicants for pilot jobs.

“Now, with the future of our flying so unclear, we anticipate having a difficult time staffing our cockpits,” he wrote in the letter.

“While the Agreement In Principle would have offered our pilots and our flying business a robust future, I do want to stress our company does not and has not relied on flying alone to generate growth and revenue. American Eagle Airlines will remain an airline, even with our reduced flying operation,” Eagle president Pedro Fabregas wrote in a letter to employees on Feb. 13.

“The ALPA Master Executive Council’s statement asking us to provide a timetable for the company’s “liquidation” is not something we can provide as we are not planning to shut down the airline. Our ground handling operation continues to thrive and we have added new business and employees there at a rapid pace and will aggressively seek to continue this trend,” Fabregas wrote.

Last week, union leaders said they rejected the 10-year offer because it would have locked in wages lower than those paid by other regional airlines.

American relies on Eagle to connect passengers from smaller airports to its major hubs. American believes it can reduce costs by letting other regional airlines bid on that flying.

Eagle, which will be renamed Envoy, expects to shift increasingly to providing airport ground services.

Republic Airways said this month that it would ground 27 planes because it doesn’t have enough pilots, which it blamed on new federal rules for minimum experience. Three days later, the airline announced an agreement with the Teamsters to put its pilots at or near the top for pay among similar carriers. Pilots must still vote on the deal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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