American Eagle is getting a new name — but the American Eagle name isn’t going away.
The regional carrier owned by American Airlines will become known as Envoy in March, American Airlines Group said Tuesday. It will continue to fly routes for American, which also contracts with other regional airlines to operate flights under the American Eagle name.
The name change is necessary as American Airlines expands its use of other regional carriers under a labor agreement negotiated with American’s pilots union in Bankruptcy Court. A year ago, American reached a deal with Republic Airways to operate 53 regional jets with 76 seats on routes for American Airlines using the American Eagle brand.
Envoy will still use the American Eagle brand and livery on its planes, and flights will be designated as flown by Envoy.
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Airlines are required to disclose which carrier is operating the flight when a traveler buys a ticket. For example, a consumer can buy a ticket on American Airlines’ website for an American Eagle flight that will be operated by a third-party carrier like Republic.
“Our people and our company — which is one of the largest regional carriers in the world, with some of the best people in our business — deserve a name that is all our own,” said Pedro Fábregas, American Eagle’s new chief executive. “By taking on the Envoy name, we can better differentiate ourselves from the competition and better market ourselves. This is important for both our people and our company as we further expand our ground handling business.”
The new name comes a month after American Eagle’s former parent, AMR Corp., merged with US Airways to create American Airlines Group. US Airways’ regional subsidiaries, PSA and Piedmont, currently fly under the US Airways Express brand and will eventually transition to the American Eagle brand as well.
The new American has 10 carriers that provide regional service for American Airlines and US Airways, and all will eventually use the American Eagle name.
Major airlines like American and United are using more third-party regional carriers to provide flights to small and medium-size communities at a lower cost.
On Friday, American Eagle’s pilots union reached a new agreement that freezes pay but guarantees that American will use Eagle to operate 60 new Embraer regional jets that American has ordered. Union leaders have said American would look to other regional carriers to operate the jets if the pilots did not agree to concessions.
American said the new name was chosen after it looked at more than 1,000 names and took into account feedback from the airline’s 14,000 employees.
Previously, in its relationship with American, Republic Airways flew regional routes from Chicago O’Hare Airport under the American Connection brand to differentiate it from American Eagle. The companies announced in 2012 that the brand would be eliminated and that all regional flights would be operated under the American Eagle name.
In 2007, AMR announced that it planned to sell or divest American Eagle. But when the recession hit a year later, the company took Eagle off the market.
Doug Parker, American’s new chief executive, said he has made no decision about Eagle’s future.
“Divesting is not something we have even thought about looking at. I’m not saying we won’t one day, but we have much much more to do than spend our time worrying about whether or not we should spin that airline out or not,” Parker said during an interview in December. “We haven’t done a bit of work on that, and I don’t expect we will for some time. They are part of the airline.”