Friday, June 11, 2010

Dan Garton returning to American Eagle as CEO
07:43 AM CDT on Friday, June 11, 2010

By ERIC TORBENSON / The Dallas Morning News

Dan Garton's flight path at Fort Worth-based AMR Corp. has taken him back to American Eagle Airlines; how long the regional affiliate stays with AMR is less clear.

AMR on Thursday named Garton the new chief executive and president of Eagle, where he spent three years as president starting in 1995. Garton replaces Peter Bowler, who announced his retirement last month.

The parent of American Airlines Inc. also said it would step up efforts to evaluate Eagle's future and decide whether to sell a portion or all of the regional airline. American relies on Eagle's feed at its hubs; about 10 percent of its total flying is done by Eagle.

AMR executives said previously that there's not a lot of benefit to owning a regional airline.
It put Eagle on the block in 2007 only to take it off in July 2008, but executives have said in earnings calls since then that divestiture was always on the table for Eagle.

Eagle's pilot union, a chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, welcomed Garton back to the carrier and hoped that he would represent Eagle's best interests as AMR weighs its future.
"We hope he is mindful that Eagle is a different airline than American and has a different standard for labor relations," said James Magee, spokesman for the ALPA chapter. "Nobody at Eagle wants to go through the troubles they've had with labor at American."

"[Eagle] has accomplished a great deal despite facing enormous challenges over the last decade," Garton said in a prepared statement. He wasn't available for comment Thursday. "But I believe there is now a tremendous opportunity to begin a new chapter in the airline's history, creating new possibilities for our customers, partners and employees."

In its statement, AMR chairman Gerard Arpey lauded Garton.

"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," he said.

Garton's 26 years at AMR most recently had him as executive vice president of marketing, where the airline has invested heavily in online booking tools and adopted a new fee structure to supplement its fares.

Before that, Garton served in sales, marketing and operations positions at American and also had a two-year period where he worked for Continental Airlines Inc. before returning to AMR as president of Eagle in 1995.

Shares of AMR rose 16 cents to $8.12 Thursday

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