$150 million annual savings targeted by employees at maintenance base

Employees at American Airlines' maintenance base in Kansas City, Mo., hope that they can save the company up to $150 million annually by reducing costs and snaring new outside contracts.

A team of airline managers and union members announced that goal Thursday and said the airline hopes to reach the target by the end of 2007.

"We're making great strides toward the future of this base, and there's a much more positive feeling here today," said Gordon Clark, president of the Kansas City chapter of the Transport Workers Union, which represents employees at the base.

Kansas City is one of three maintenance bases American operates.

The other two are at Alliance Airport and in Tulsa.

Employees at the Tulsa base came up with a similar plan last year, hoping to save $500 million every year.

The effort is part of a broader initiative at American to improve the company's bottom line through cooperative ventures between management and unions.

The effort has saved hundreds of millions of dollars over the last few years.

The Kansas City facility, which employs about 900 people, was in danger of closing in 2003 but remained open, in part thanks to $200 million in city and state government incentives.

"We've been in survival mode for a long time here, and now we're looking beyond that at growing the base," said Ed Chevrestt, the facility's managing director.

The base primarily performs maintenance on Boeing 767 airplanes and some work on Boeing 757s.

Next month, workers there will begin servicing some aircraft of American Eagle, American's regional affiliate.

The future of American's joint effort with its unions has been jeopardized in recent weeks as many employees and labor leaders criticized about $70 million in management bonuses scheduled to be paid in April.

But Clark said that for the most part, employees and management have worked well together in Kansas City.

"It can be tough to get in the same room and talk about some of these things," he said. "But at the end of the day, we felt like we came up with a great idea that will help secure the future for all of us."

Fort Worth Star Telegram

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