The job security of some of AirCal's 3,400 employees remained uncertain Monday after the Transportation Department gave final approval to American Airline's $225-million acquisition of the Newport Beach-based regional air carrier.
Since last November, when American announced its plans to purchase AirCal, spokesmen for both airlines have been reluctant to field questions about layoffs, transfers and seniority.
"We will offer whatever is possible to AirCal employees, but nothing is finalized," said Lowell Duncan, an American Airline spokesman. "We will be trying to bring as many of their people as possible" to American, he said.
An AirCal spokesman said that it was too early to comment on the employment situation.
When Texas-based American Airlines' plans first were announced, William Lyon, chairman of AirCal and its parent company, ACI Holdings Inc., said the merger would give AirCal employees more security and stability.
Lyon was not available for comment Monday.
Neither Lyon nor AirCal's other principal shareholder, George L. Argyros, owner of Arnel Development Co. of Santa Ana, have publicly discussed their plans once the sale of their AirCal shares is completed.
But Argyros has no corporate position at AirCal and reportedly has no interest in remaining in the airline business.
Lyon is a retired Air Force brigadier general with a lifelong interest in aviation. Duncan said that Robert L. Crandall, chairman and president of American, plans to announce today whether Lyon will have a position at American.
Until the merger is completed, which will take about 120 to 150 days, AirCal will be run as a separate entity, Duncan said. After that, AirCal will lose its identity and become part of American.
Under the agreement between the two companies, American initially will pay $15 a share for 6 million shares of stock in ACI Holdings. The cash purchases will be made from Lyon and Argyros and represent 70% of the holding company's outstanding common stock.
There has been no date set for Lyon and Argyros to receive the money, Duncan said.
Arrangements to purchase the remaining 30% of the company have not been announced by American officials.
AirCal flies its 39 aircraft from Orange County to destinations in six states and British Columbia. Its primary competitors are PSA and United Airlines.