Nov. 12, 2002 – American Airlines' frequent flyer program will continue when the airline's American Eagle services based out of San Juan and Miami are sold to Puerto Rico-based businessman Joaquin Bolivar, according to American Airlines spokeswoman Minnette Velez.
"It's in the marketing agreement," Velez said.
However, the airline will have a new name, American Connection, and a new airline code, OW. American Eagle flights now use the same code as American, which is AA.
American Eagle flies from San Juan to St. Croix, St. Thomas and Tortola as well as to other destinations throughout the Caribbean. It's too early to tell what changes, if any, will occur on those routes.
Velez said the sale is expected to conclude near the end of March. Details have not been disclosed.
These American Eagle routes are operated by Executive Airlines. Executive Airlines was founded in 1985 by Bolivar, who bought out the old Prinnair routes when that company went belly up. The airline became an American Eagle franchise in 1986.
Velez said Bolivar sold Executive Airlines to AMR Corp. in 1989. AMR also owns American Airlines.
AMR is forced to sell Executive Airlines to comply with its union contract with the Allied Pilots Association, Velez said. It prevents the airline from adding flights that fly under the American Airlines code.
"A clause establishes how much American Eagle can grow while pilots are on furlough," Velez said. American Airlines laid off about 600 pilots in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Velez said American Eagle had already done things like remove seats and eliminate flights in order to comply with the Allied Pilots Association agreement.
In order for American Eagle to grow, the company would have had to ground more planes.
"Although I am disappointed that we have had to take this step, this transaction achieves a number of objectives," said American Eagle President Peter Bowler.
Bowler said it saves jobs at both Executive and American Eagle because the company won't have to ground additional aircraft. "And finally, the sale will provide American with valuable and profitable feed traffic," he said.
Executive Airline's current president, Gary Ellmer, will remain in that post after the sale.
Bolivar is chairman and chief executive officer of the Water Club and Excelsior Hotels, both located in San Juan. He founded another airline, Executive Air Charter, in 1979 and owned Puerto Rico's largest chain of travel agencies, Bithorn Travel, from 1990 to 1999.

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