American Airlines and US Airways officially became the world's largest airline Monday. The new company will have nearly 6,700 flights every day and employ more than 100,000 people.
The merger is good news for Tulsa. American Airlines says the Tulsa facility is the world's largest airline maintenance base in the world. For now, the plan is to keep it open, but union leaders are still worried that some jobs may be leaving.
Employees of the new American Airlines group rang the NASDAQ opening bell Monday, also ringing in a new era for the airline, as the merger became official.
"Now it's my great, great pleasure to say that this is a great way to end the year, but it's even a better way to begin a new year," said Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett.
The celebration continued in Tulsa, as area leaders and American Airlines announced the merger would have little effect on Tulsa's maintenance facility.
"It's a phenomenal facility, and from talking to employees today, these people are very proud of what they do here, proud of the work they do, and I'm looking forward to getting a little more time and spending time in the facility," said David Seymour, Vice President of Technical Operations.
Seymour said US Airways has two similar, but smaller facilities, in Charlotte and Pittsburgh. Each has less than a thousand employees.
The initial idea, he said, is to keep those plants open and let Tulsa's American employees work on American's airplanes.
"At this point, there's nothing planned. The work we're doing in Pittsburgh is going to stay in Pittsburgh. The work in Charlotte, where we have another maintenance base on the US Airways side, will be staying there. We just haven't done that assessment, so it's too early to tell," Seymour said.
Dale Danker, president of the local chapter of the Transport Workers Union, said members should always be prepared for bad news. He's worried the new American Airlines will still take jobs from Tulsa, saying US Airways often outsources its work.
"We're happy to this point," Danker said. "Let's move forward and let's see, but we're cautious, very cautious."
The Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and city leaders say the merger sends a strong message about northeastern Oklahoma to the rest of the aerospace industry.
"It's says that we're alive and well and that we are very strong and have an outstanding workforce," said chamber President Mike Neal.
American Airlines says the fine details of the merger are still being worked out, but union employees will continue to work under their current collective bargaining agreement.