American Airlines To Cut 839 Jobs At Tulsa Maintenance Base

Sept. 11-- American Airlines will close its Fort Worth maintenance base by the end of the year, lay off 839 Tulsa mechanics and consolidate major aircraft maintenance operations in Tulsa and at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, company executives said Monday.

More than 1,700 mechanics & related workers at American's three aircraft overhaul bases will be laid off in December and February, officials said.

Additional reductions of mechanics & related positions at the Tulsa maintenance base could occur as a result of the closing of the Alliance Airport base in Fort Worth and layoffs of 862 mechanics & related workers there whose seniority could lead to "bumping" of less senior mechanics in Tulsa, officials said.

"The majority of the layoffs that will take place in December ... and February 2013 are as a result of the (bankruptcy) restructure process," said James Weel, American's managing director of employee relations in a letter to Donald Videtich, international representative of the Transport Workers Union. "Additional headcount changes will be necessary due to adjustments in work load, i.e. aircraft retirements, which will accommodate additional exits in May and September."

In bankrupt American's "M&E Restructuring Plans, Sept. 7, 2012," the company outlines how it will transition by February from three aircraft maintenance bases today at Fort Worth Alliance Airport, DFW and Tulsa, to two overhaul bases at DFW and Tulsa.

The restructuring plan, which the company has provided to the TWU, indicate 1,701 workers in the union will be laid off in the next five months.

In Tulsa, where 4,268 mechanics & related workers are employed today, 233 mechanics will be laid off in December and 606 mechanics will lose their jobs in February, American's plan says.

American executives declined to comment on the plan since it must be approved -- along with seven TWU collective bargaining agreements -- by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane.

A hearing to consider the maintenance & engineering restructuring plans and the collective bargaining agreements has been scheduled for Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, said the impending American layoffs will have an impact on the city.

"Some of our friends and neighbors will ultimately be affected by the difficult decisions that will be made according to the restructuring plan announced by American Airlines today, including the elimination of some positions in Tulsa," Neal said. "While any jobs cuts at the Tulsa maintenance base will be difficult, it's important to remember that, with the current plan, thousands of jobs that are vital to our community will continue to be preserved.

"To ensure Tulsa's future and job growth in the aerospace industry, it is vital that we build a foundation for long-term success and growth at the Tulsa Industrial Complex so that it contains attractive and competitive facilities. Vision2 (the proposed November ballot question on a sales tax) provides the facility improvements to our citizen-owned facilities that our community needs to retain and attract a large number of aerospace jobs, which ensures the future long-term success of the Tulsa region."

American executives said an early-retirement option for TWU members could change the number of involuntary layoffs, though it wouldn't change the total labor force reductions.

The window on the TWU early-out option opened last week and will close Sept. 25.

As part of the early-retirement program, a mechanic who is 45 years old with 15 years' work experience could be eligible for a $12,500 cash payout, plus $10,000 and 13 weeks' severance pay, company officials said.

American executives said the company must cut 10,400 jobs and reduce labor costs by $1.06 billion a year to emerge from bankruptcy and compete successfully in the airline industry.

Among additional cost-saving measures, American proposes to outsource up to 35 percent of its aircraft maintenance now performed in house.

More than 7,000 people are employed at American's Tulsa maintenance base.


American Airlines' maintenance & engineering restructuring

--In Tulsa, layoffs of 233 mechanics & related workers in December, layoffs of additional 606 M&R employees in February

--At Fort Worth Alliance Airport, layoffs of 862 M&R workers in December and closure of base

--At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, addition of 209 M&R employees in December

Source: AMR Corp.

D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451

Copyright 2012 - Tulsa World, Okla.