AMR Corp.’s court-protected reorganization continues apace with the retirement of six ATR turboprops in the coming weeks and 15 more by the end of January.

The aircraft, like all 36 ATR 72s operated by regional affiliate Executive Airlines, are leased and the first six that are being returned at the beginning of 2012 are already parked.

The loss of the second batch of 64- to 66-seat ATRs on Jan. 31 also means the end of turboprop services at AMR’s hub at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), although all year-round services currently operated with turboprops will remain in AMR’s network, albeit served by smaller Embraer ERJ-140 and -145 regional jets offering 44 and 50 seats, respectively.

Executive, which operates regional services for American Airlines alongside American Eagle Airlines, will continue to operate ATR 72s in Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico, although the fate of these aircraft also is in doubt.

“These aircraft are nearing the end of their lease terms and AMR has been carefully evaluating whether to accelerate their return. This week, the decision was made to do just that, beginning with the ATRs that are based in DFW,” says American Eagle Airlines President and CEO Dan Garton in a letter to employees.

“In order to replace the ATR flying with regional jets, we will reduce frequency in a few select markets and discontinue seasonal service from DFW to Augusta, Ga., as well as service from Chicago to Tri-Cities, Tenn. Eagle will continue to serve Savannah, Ga., and American will maintain service to Fort Myers, Fla., from DFW, but Eagle will cease service to both cities from Miami. In addition, three previously-announced cancellations planned for Feb. 9 (Los Angeles-Boise, Chicago-Calgary and DFW-Fayetteville, N.C.) will be advanced to Jan. 31. We plan to notify the affected airports, customers and community leaders shortly,” adds Garton.

Staff will also be cut from Executive’s payroll, continues Garton, although exact details are not expected until January.

The announcement comes days after AMR Chairman, President and CEO Tom Horton warned employees that cuts will be necessary to “return American to its rightful place of leadership.”

“The challenges are many. We will have to change the way we do business to become more competitive and efficient. We will have to make very tough and sometimes unpopular decisions that will impact people’s lives. We will restructure our debt and aircraft leases, and as we do we will undoubtedly need to ground some planes and resize our network before we can turn the corner and grow again,” said Horton.

“And, regrettably, we will most certainly end the process with fewer people than we have today. And as part of the restructuring process, we’ll need to finally agree upon next-generation, competitive labor contracts. This will all be difficult, but I assure you our objective will be to create a successful company and the best outcome for the greatest number of people,” he added.