Tulsa Invests $14M in American Airlines to Improve Maintenance Facility

Three years after Vision 2025 passed, Tulsa voters are beginning to see measurable results for a key economic development project.

So far, $14 million of Vision 2025 funds have helped American Airlines improve its maintenance operation at Tulsa International Airport, and pushed the airline toward becoming a maintenance provider for other airlines.

American Airline is set to receive $22.3 million from the Vision 2025 sales tax program approved by voters in September 2003.

With the passage of Vision 2025, American Airlines agreed to consolidate its heavy maintenance work to Tulsa International Airport.

Funds from the sales tax are used for capital improvements including equipment purchases. The Dallas-based airline has been reimbursed $14 million for equipment and capital improvement projects, said Kirby Crowe, owner and manager of PMg, the county's contractor managing the sales tax program.

The Vision 2025 program reimburses American Airlines for certain equipment and improvements. He estimates the funding for the American Airlines project will be completed in the spring. The airline has about 95 percent of its funding; the remaining 5 percent is reserve funds.

With the Vision 2025 funds, the airline has purchased new radar test equipment, MD-80 engine stands, Kardex vertical storage, reconfigured a dock bridge crane, vehicle floor lift, and a thermo electron trace gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, according to the November 2006 Vision 2025 report.

American Airlines has also used Vision 2025 funds to improve its industrial wastewater treatment plant in order to meet discharge limits.

Since receiving the sales tax funding and embarking on the improvements, the airline has picked up service contracts with other airlines, said John Hotard, a spokesman for the airline. One of those contracts is a five-year maintenance contract with Synergy Aerospace for 29 Fokkerr F-100s. The agreement was reached in mid-2005.

Just this month, American Airlines entered into a $30 million, four-year maintenance agreement with Allegiant Air. American Airlines will provide maintenance and overhaul services for Allegiant's fleet of 24 MD80s.

Allegiant is a small carrier that specializes in routes from small and midsize markets to tourist destinations.

Hotard said the Vision 2025 money also helps the airline do more of its own maintenance and overhaul work here. The Tulsa facility will be responsible for heavy overhaul work for the airlines' 737s, including break and landing gear overhauls.

An engine shop has been built for repair work to the General Electric engines that power the 737. Avionic work for the 737, the 757 and 777 will be done in Tulsa.

American employs approximately 6,700 people at the Tulsa facility, 5,800 of whom are members of the Transport Workers Union.

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