Garton regains American Eagle presidency, reaffirms intent to sell the regional


American Airlines’ Executive Vice President-Marketing Daniel Garton was tapped yesterday to succeed Peter Bowler as president and chief executive officer of American Eagle. At the same time AMR also reiterated its intent to evaluate the possible divestiture of American Eagle. Before his departure, Bowler reported that American Eagle, which flew 16 million passengers last year coming in at number two in the industry behind SkyWest, was finally growing again “and playing a very central role in American’s corner-post strategy” at Miami, New York, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.

“We are reducing point-to-point service to concentrate on hub flying and putting our assets in big critical markets where we can win market share,” he said. “The ATRs are ideal aircraft for serving high-volume routes within a 250-mile radius of a hub.”

The airline was increasing daily aircraft utilisation and was excited about taking delivery of its 22 CRJ 700s over the next months marking the airline’s first new aircraft delivery in five years. Scope clauses did not have to be amended since they allowed for the 22 new aircraft to be operated on top of the 25 CRJ700s already in use.

The new CRJs, outfitted in dual class configuration, will launch on 01-Jul-2010 in New York where American is in a pitched battle with Delta and Star Alliance’s United and Continental for the hearts and minds of one of the toughest markets in the world. The aircraft are configured with nine first class seats and 54 coach seats and first class will offer first class-level meals on all flights over two hours.

He also reported American Eagle was launching new routes at a record pace with 16 opened about three months ago. The company just received a favorable ruling on the arbitration between American and Eagle pilots which funnels Eagle pilots into American and, if American furloughs mainline pilots, they flow back to American Eagle. “That means the seniority chain is moving and makes us more attractive for new hires. We are currently hiring 20 pilots per month.”

He confirmed American’s plans to down grade the Caribbean markets where it has historically been the strongest. It is closing its San Juan hub in favor of moving its operations to Miami to support American’s north/south service to New York. He said the ATR 72 was especially useful in Miami given the number of military bases in the region In addition, half the aircraft that were based at San Juan have been moved to Dallas to support American there..

Garton, who was president of the regional subsidiary for three years beginning in Jul-1995, returns to American Eagle after 12 years with American. Prior to his EVP role Garton held senior executive positions in operations and finance. During Garton's tenure at American Eagle, he engineered the airline's transition from four separate carriers to one and introduced the regional airline to the jet age with the acquisition of its first jet aircraft.

"The AMR Board of Directors and I clearly recognise Dan's leadership and his many contributions to AMR," said AMR Chair and CEO Gerard Arpey,. "Dan has remarkable talent and ability that - when coupled with his broad knowledge of the challenging airline industry and his insight from his time as president of American Eagle - make him uniquely qualified to lead American Eagle, especially as we begin a strategic evaluation of the regional airline."

Garton noted that these are times of unprecedented challenge and change in the airline industry and regional airlines are in an excellent position to capitalise on these new market dynamics. "When you look at the sheer scope of the regional airline industry, carriers like American Eagle provide half the scheduled passenger flights in the United States, which is a pretty phenomenal contribution,” he said. “Regional airlines ensure a critical transportation link, particularly with medium and smaller sized markets that might otherwise not have air service.”

See related report: US regional airline strategies in place for the future

While EVP-Marketing, Garton introduced a new booking tool on AA.com that allows travelers to search flight options by both price and schedule and rolled out American's Lowest Fare Guarantee on AA.com. He also is credited with spearheading American's Customer Experience Leadership initiative to redouble the airline's customer service efforts, including tailoring products and services to American's premium customers. In addition, Garton had responsibility for unveiling American's Gogo(R) Inflight Wireless Internet service and revolutionising award travel by introducing the popular "One-Way Flex Awards," giving AAdvantage members more options when redeeming award travel.

Garton joined American in 1984 and held a variety of staff positions in the Sales, Marketing, Finance and Airport Operations departments at American, in addition to his three-year tenure as President of American Eagle. Garton left AMR briefly to serve for two years as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Continental Airlines before returning in 1995 to AMR to assume the presidency of American Eagle.

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