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Envoy Air to shutter Miami crew base as American shifts flying

Envoy Air will shutter its crew base and lay off about 50 employees in maintenance and management in Miami, its top executive said Friday, as the regional affiliate of American Airlines Group continues to shrink.

The move comes as American shifts regional flying away from the carrier’s 50-seat regional jets to 76-seat aircraft flown by other airlines after Envoy’s pilots union rejected a cost-cutting contract.

Envoy Chief Executive Officer Pedro Fabregas said that after Dec. 18, the carrier will operate only 37 daily departures for American from Miami, down from 60 now.

“As American continues to optimize its network, there no doubt will be other changes that affect us,” Fabregas wrote in a letter to employees Friday. “I truly regret the adverse impact these changes will have on some of our people in [Miami].”

American’s decision to shift some of its wide-body aircraft maintenance to Miami also means that Envoy will no longer have maintenance hangar space. As a result, employees may be moved to other Envoy facilities, Fabregas said.

The carrier expects to cut 50 positions in Miami, particularly in maintenance and management. It does not expect to lay off any pilots or flight attendants because of the reduced flight schedule but will close its crew base by April.

Envoy’s pilots union leader called the carrier’s announcement to close its Miami crew base a “punitive decision.”

In a letter sent to pilots, Bill Sprague, master executive council chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association, said the carrier’s news has created extreme challenges for the Miami-based pilots and their families.

Sprague said that he spoke with Fabregas on Friday morning and that the CEO explained that American Airlines made the decision.

“I asked many questions to be sure that we understand the dynamics and logistics of the [Miami] drawdown,” Sprague said. “We have not been provided with an exact date, but we’ve been told to expect a displacement bid soon.”

Envoy, which was long called American Eagle, is one of 11 small carriers that operate regional flights for American Airlines under the American Eagle brand. American has two other wholly owned regional carriers, Piedmont Airlines and PSA Airlines (both former US Airways units), that also fly for Eagle.

This year, Envoy pilots rejected a contract that would have guaranteed the deployment of larger regional jets with Envoy in return for pay scale freezes.

Without a revised contract, American has decided to take 47 large regional jets from Envoy and give them to PSA while also retiring Envoy’s 44-seat ERJ-140s.

As a result, Envoy has continued to shrink its operations as it flies less for American.