American Airlines’ regional carrier, American Eagle, is changing its name to Envoy. Parent company American Airlines Group says customers will still see planes with the American Eagle logo, but with the word “Envoy” added.
American says it will cut confusion, but others aren’t so sure.
The company explains the name change this way: The newly-merged American Airlines/U.S. Airways contracts with 10 regional carriers or feeder lines, including American Eagle and others like Republic and Express Jet. So customers don’t mix up the feeder system with the airline itself, each of those regional lines will show the Eagle brand while flying for Envoy.
American spokesperson Matt Miller says the planes will read "American Eagle, by Envoy," but passengers might not even notice.
“So customers will continue to book flights and arrive at airports and see gates branded American Eagle and get on aircraft that are branded American Eagle," Miller says. "So no change as far as travelers are concerned.”
The name change goes into effect this spring.
American says this will help give Eagle and its workers a new distinct identity and avoid confusion. But David Lei, associate professor of strategy at SMU’s Cox Business School, thinks it helps create confusion.
"When it says ‘by Envoy,’ then the natural question comes to mind is, well, ‘Who’s Envoy?’" Lei said. "And therefore am I going to get an interruption in service or is this something that frankly, is maybe, you know, not akin to what the pre-existing service level was?”
Or, Lei asks, are there now two separate carriers? But Lei gives management the benefit of the doubt in rebranding after the merger.
American says it consulted employees, tried out a thousand different names and picked Envoy -- which just happens to have been what U.S. Airways called the service it gave its top customers.