Turbulent Times For One Of Tulsa's Largest Employers

Monday, October 3rd 2011, 9:54 pm

By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The stock of American Airlines' parent company, AMR, took a nosedive Monday, fueled by concerns it's about to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  The stock price closed down nearly 30 percent, just above $2.00 a share.

10/3/2011 Related Story: American Airlines Bankruptcy Fears Rock Wall Street

It wasn't even two months ago that local American employees were rallying to keep Tulsa jobs from flying south to Dallas.

8/31/2011 Related Story: Group Campaigns To Keep American Airline Jobs In Tulsa

Now, the local union is responding as the company's stock plummets and bankruptcy rumors take off.

"It's not a fear that drives me. Is it something that I know that's out there? Yeah, that's part of reality," said John Hewitt, AA employee, TWU Local 514.

And the reality is the last time American's stock dipped this low, it negotiated concessions from its unions to avoid Chapter 11.

"It's disappointing to hear the stock went that low again, knowing that they've got more money available to them now than they did in 2003," Hewitt said.

American is headed toward losing money for the fourth straight year in a row. Analysts say American is paying higher labor and financing costs than any other U.S. airline.

A spokesperson for the company said in an email:

"There is no company-driven news that has caused the volatility in AMR shares. [Bankruptcy] is certainly not our goal or our preference. We know we need to improve our results, and we are keenly focused as we work to achieve that."

"It's just unfathomable what it would mean if a bankruptcy judge got to restructure this company," Hewitt said.

But John Hewitt doesn't believe that's where the company's heading. He points to the company's recent refinancing of its debt and the purchase of new planes as proof there's hope on the horizon.

"They're looking at the future purchase of the aircraft. That's not a company that's going into bankruptcy," he said.

American still hasn't decided whether those 200 jobs will move to Dallas. A spokesperson says there's no specific timeline, but employees will get a year's notice.


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