American Eyes Vacant Delta Hangar at D/FW

Apr. 28 -- One of the last vestiges of the Delta Air Lines hub at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport is likely to soon vanish.

American Airlines has asked to take over the old Delta maintenance hangar at the airport, which has long sported that airline's name in giant letters visible to travelers driving north through the facility. The hangar has been vacant since April 2005, after Delta closed its D/FW hub and eliminated 92 percent of its local flights.

Initially, American plans to base 80 employees at the building and could eventually add up to 500 there, according to airport documents.

American, based in Fort Worth, has proposed renting the hangar for $3 million annually through 2009, with an option to extend the lease for an additional 15 years. The airline would also perform necessary repairs, which include reactivating a fire-suppression system and removing bird waste accumulated over the years.

The airport would reimburse American up to $900,000 for the repairs, according to airport documents.

Officials with American declined to comment on the proposed lease, which will be considered by the airport's board of directors next week. The lease would include the hangar, an adjacent ramp area, an employee parking lot and a utility plant and system.

The 180,000-square-foot hangar has three bays for wide-body airplanes and three spaces for narrow-body aircraft. The lease site covers about 46 acres.

Delta used the hangar for overnight maintenance. American would use the space to work on Boeing 777s, according to airport documents, and for a scheduled reconfiguration of its MD-80 cabins.

Airport officials have been trying to find a tenant for the hangar since Delta abandoned it.

American already has four maintenance hangars at the airport, which is its largest hub. It was unclear whether the new hangar would bring new work to D/FW or shift work from other sites at the airport.

The airline, the world's largest, has been expanding its maintenance operations in recent years by doing work for other airlines at facilities in Fort Worth, Tulsa and Kansas City.

Most other airlines, meanwhile, have increasingly been outsourcing aircraft maintenance, often to companies based overseas.

Shares of AMR Corp., American's parent company (ticker: AMR) closed at $26.35, down $1.34, in trading Friday.

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