Simmons Airlines

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Simmons Airlines
Founded 1978
Commenced operations 1978
Ceased operations May 15, 1998
Headquarters Marquette, Michigan (later Chicago, Illinois)

Simmons Airlines was a United States airline. It was the predecessor to American Eagle Airlines. Its headquarters were originally near Marquette, Michigan, at the Marquette County Airport in Negaunee,[1] and were eventually moved to the Near North Side of Chicago, Illinois.[2]


Simmons Airlines, Inc. began operations in 1978 between Marquette and Lansing using a Piper Navajo. Operations expanded in the 1980s to link multiple points in Michigan to Chicago and Detroit, and its fleet expanded with Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante, Shorts 360s, and YS-11s. It began operating as a Republic Express branded carrier on April 28, 1985 (later Northwest Airlink) serving markets from Detroit, and as an American Eagle branded carrier on October 1, 1985 serving markets from Chicago.[3]

Simmons was acquired by AMR Corp. on August 1, 1987 and ended Northwest Airlink flights soon after. On May 28, 1993, it acquired certain assets of the holdings of Metro Airlines. Metro Airlines and its holdings Metro Airlines Leasing d/b/a Metroflight, operated American Eagle flights from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and had recently acquired Chaparral Airlines just prior the asset acquisition by AMR Simmons.

In 1998 the remaining certificated regional airline carriers Wings West Airlines and Flagship Airlines, which were both wholly owned by the AMR Corporation and operating under the American Eagle banner and brand, were merged under the surviving Simmons Airlines IATA designator 'MQ', thus forming a certificated airline named American Eagle Airlines (rather than just an Airlink, Connect, Connection, Eagle, or Express airline codeshare brand). Executive Airlines is the only remaining regional-banner carrier airline to be fully owned by AMR; it continues to operate as Executive Airlines under the branding of American Eagle.


  • AMR Corporation's Simmons Airlines Flight 4184 (as American Eagle)
  • Simmons Airlines Flight 1746, near Alpena, MI—March 13, 1986.[4]
  • A Simmons Piper Aerostar flying from Lansing to Marquette diverted to Kent County International Airport during freezing rain on January 19, 1979. The plane crashed as the pilot attempted to land, killing the pilot and three passengers and seriously injuring two passengers.[5]


  1. ^ The Mining Journal obituary for Simmons executive Joel Murray, November 11, 2009 [1]
  2. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 14–20, 1990. 127.
  3. ^ "Simmons To Serve 11 Cities As American Airlines Link", The Chicago Tribune, August 15, 1985 [2].
  4. ^ NTSB Aircraft Accident Report (AAR) number AAR-87/02 [3].
  5. ^ "CHI79FA025, 14 CFR Part 135 Scheduled operation of L.J.SIMMONS". Retrieved 8 Apr 2013.