The Eagle is leaving the nest.
American Eagle Airlines, the regional carrier that’s changing its name to Envoy on April 15, plans to move its headquarters to Irving, the company announced Wednesday.
American Eagle is owned by American Airlines Group and has been housed at American’s corporate offices in Fort Worth on Amon Carter Boulevard since it was created in 1998. Eagle employees work at seven different locations near Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
“It will be the first time in our company’s 16-year history that we have one central location for our 600 headquarters employees,” American Eagle president Pedro Fabregas said at a news conference announcing the move.
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Eagle will move into two buildings on Regent Boulevard, just northeast of the airport, occupying 142,000 square feet of office space with a four-year lease. Employees will relocate to Irving starting in July.
The new corporate home will include the carrier’s operations control center and its pilot and flight attendant training facilities. Fabregas said the company began looking for new office space in October as its parent company, American Airlines Group, began planning its merger with US Airways and needed more room for employees transferring to Fort Worth from US Airways’ headquarters in Tempe, Ariz.
“We welcome your 600 employees and we’re certain you’ll find Irving a great city in which to live, work and play,” Irving Mayor Beh Van Duyne said during the news conference.
American is expanding its use of outside carriers to fly routes under the American Eagle brand. Last month, American Eagle pilots turned down a proposed contract that would have guaranteed that larger regional jets be operated by Eagle in exchange for concessions. Since the pilot contract was turned down, American Eagle has not held any meetings with the union leaders, Fabregas said.
Without new contract terms, American management has said it plans to shrink Eagle’s operations and, in an investor update on Tuesday, said it will retire 40 Embraer 140 aircraft by the end of the year. The 44-seat aircraft are operated by Eagle.
“We are evaluating our options for our future,” Fabregas said in his first media interview since the pilots rejected the contract.
In addition to flying regional flights for American, American Eagle also performs ground work such as baggage handling and gate operations for other airlines at smaller airports. Fabregas said 8,000 of the company’s 14,000 workers are dedicated to the ground business and he expects that “we do have a future in the ground business.”
Fabregas said there are no plans to spin off Envoy from American Airlines Group and it does not plan to try to attract regional flying contracts from other airlines like United Airlines or Delta Air Lines.
He added that he does not plan to announce any furloughs at the carrier even as it retires the older 44-seat aircraft. The carrier is hiring about 15 pilots a month, but it’s losing about 44 each month who either retire, leave for another job or are hired at American Airlines’ mainline operation, he said.
The industry is dealing with a potential pilot shortage, but Fabregas said regional carriers will be able to continue to staff their planes as larger regional jets replace smaller 44-seat and 50-seat jets that are in operation. With the larger planes, airlines are likely to trim multiple daily flights that use smaller planes and use a larger plane can carry the same amount of passengers, he said.
“There is going to be a reset on network planning and when I say reset that means major airlines like American Airlines are going to evaluate their networks, understand their needs and how they are going to allocate their flying,” Fabregas said.
American, which merged with US Airways in December, owns two other regional carriers, PSA Airlines and Piedmont Airlines. Both carriers currently operate under the US Airways Express brand and neither had headquarters offices at US Airways’ former Tempe headquarters. PSA is headquartered in Vandalia, Ohio, and Piedmont is located in Salisbury, Md.