American Airlines plans to shrink its Envoy Air fleet by transferring larger regional jets that Envoy operates to another regional subsidiary, PSA Airlines.
The transfer of 47 Bombardier CRJ-700s from Envoy to PSA will begin in mid-2015 and be completed by the end of 2016, Envoy Chief Executive Pedro Fabregas told employees in a letter Thursday.
“While it is too early to determine the exact impact that this change will have on Envoy and our people, we know that we will need to adjust staffing,” Fabregas said. “For most groups, we believe that normal attrition will address much of these staffing changes. In some cases, there may be displacements from one location to another.”
With the CRJ-700s leaving Envoy’s fleet, the regional carrier will operate only 44- and 50-seat aircraft. Envoy is formerly known as American Eagle.
Since the beginning of the year, American has been in contract talks with Envoy’s pilots union. In March, Envoy pilots rejected a 10-year contract that would have frozen pay scales in exchange for providing larger regional aircraft to the carrier.
Bill Sprague, chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association master executive council, said the union was outraged by American’s announcement.
“This action obviously and significantly punishes Envoy pilots for refusing to accept the additional concessions demanded by the company in exchange for larger aircraft,” Sprague said.
“The company’s recent commitment to keep 200 aircraft on the property for the foreseeable future is no more credible than their promise to re-fleet Envoy as part of the bankruptcy contract.”
The union previously told its pilots that if American parks Envoy’s 59 Embraer 140s and transfers the CRJ-700s, as it threatened, the carrier would need 47 percent fewer pilots than the 2,500 now on staff.
Talks between the two parties broke down again in August, and American announced that it would place its new, larger 76-seat Embraer E-175 regional jets with another carrier. To date, American has given 20 E-175s to Compass Airlines to be flown under the American Eagle livery.
Ten regional carriers, including its wholly owned subsidiaries Envoy, PSA and Piedmont Airlines, fly under the American Eagle brand.
“This is a proud moment for our great regional airline as we continue to grow our operations for American,” PSA President Dion Flannery told workers in a message. “This transition is a rational and prudent move that underscores American’s pursuit of merger synergies and PSA’s track record as a reliable and effective Bombardier CRJ operator.”