"It's a tough market to be in right now due to the third-party outsourcing," he said. "It's difficult for us to compete, but there is some specialized work that we can be competitive in."
American is trying to get maintenance work with a company that flies MD-80s, Clark said, a job that would be done at the Kansas City base. He declined to identify the potential customer.
"That could save 80 to 100 jobs between now and June," he said. "But these things take time, and it's a very competitive market. If there's anything we can do in working with the company to get more work, then we'll do that."
Pete Fullerton, executive director of the Platte County Economic Development Council, said Wednesday's decision was unfortunate but expected.
"Those folks employed at the base have done great honor to the aviation industry as a whole for a long time," he said.
Although Kansas City has an aging maintenance facility, Fullerton said, the area's advantage in marketing itself to aviation companies is the base's skilled work force.
"We have brainpower that is head and shoulders above what other cities can offer in aviation," he said. "Our immediate challenge is getting up to speed and keeping that group employed in the area."
American, which has lost nearly $2 billion in the past two years, also has maintenance facilities in Tulsa, Okla., and in Fort Worth, Texas, where the company is based. American's 25-year lease with Kansas City is to operate the base's super hangar. Several narrow-body aircraft bays are no longer being used at the city-owned complex.
After the layoffs, American will have about 900 employees at the base, down from 4,500 as recently as 1990. Record fuel prices and fierce airfare competition are hurting the airline.
This will be the final week of work for nearly 500 employees at the American Airlines overhaul base, the second massive layoff at the facility in six months.
The three American labor groups, the Transport Workers Union, the Allied Pilots Association and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, expressed concern over an executive bonus plan last...
The Transport Workers Union, which represents about 800 employees at the base, hopes the initiative will lead to more jobs at the facility.