AMR warns of American Eagle layoffs

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on December 15, 2011 at 8:20 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 15 at 8:21 PM

FORT WORTH - On Thursday, American Eagle pilots and flight attendants felt the first major fallout from AMR's decision to file bankruptcy.

When CEO Tom Horton announced the bankruptcy 15 days ago, the news to labor was bad, but vague. But it's looking worse now.

In a letter to employees Thursday, Horton was more blunt:

"Dear American Team," the letter said. "We will undoubtedly need to ground some planes and resize our network before we can turn the corner and grow again. We will most certainly end the process with fewer people than we have today. We'll need to finally agree upon next generation, competitive labor contracts."

The first of the warned cuts are at American Eagle, which feeds traffic into the parent airline.

American announced plans to sell Eagle this summer, but those plans have been scrapped.

Still, Eagle's older, slower and smaller aircraft will be the first to go. And with them, the pilots and flight attendants who fly them.

In all, Eagle has more than a hundred small jets with less than 70 seats, which may not be profitable in today's market.

These aircraft are flown by different unions than American's bigger planes. The Airline Pilots Association and the Association of Flight Attendants, both headquartered in Washington. Neither was available for comment Thursday.

American Eagle says it may furlough 119 pilots and 104 flight attendants in February. The company filed a layoff notice with the Texas Workforce Commission Thursday that says the layoffs may happen.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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