American Airlines will sell its Caribbean feeder, Executive, which flies as an American Eagle affiliate from Puerto Rico and is AMR's major instrument of dominance in the Caribbean.

But the sale has inflamed American's labour relations, infuriating not just one but two unions, the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents Eagle crew, and American's own in-house union, the Allied Pilots Association. ALPA president Duane Woerth says this is the most recent in the trend of spinning off regional feeders that threatens mainline jobs.

AMR did not disclose the terms of Executive's sale to Joaquin Bolivar of San Juan. A hotelier, Bolivar founded Executive's charter predecessor in 1979. The carrier will continue to operate as an Eagle feeder for the time being.

The sale is intended to give Eagle room to grow, by letting it add aircraft next year without breaking scope rules. Under American's contract with the Allied Pilots Association (APA), Eagle cannot add aircraft to its fleet while union pilots are on furlough. And about 880 APA pilots await a call back to work.

APA president John Darrah called the sale "the kind of contractual 'sharp shooting' that makes it very difficult for employees to trust that management has their best interests at heart".

The sales may continue. Eagle president Peter Bowler said AMR will continue to discuss selling all of Eagle as part of a review of 'non-core' assets. He says: "The sale of Eagle is not imminent, though it is a possibility."

Source: Airline Business