American Airlines' decision to keep all 3 of it's maintenance bases open, is 'really' good news for Tulsa

Wednesday, October 22nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

American Airlines decided Wednesday, the fate of its three maintenance bases in Kansas City, Fort Worth, and Tulsa. The company had already announced last month the Tulsa base was secure.

But Wednesday, they say Fort Worth and Kansas City will also stay open. It's a big relief for Kansas City, which had feared the base there, might close altogether.

The News on 6 has learned though that Tulsa might have actually won the most Wednesday. News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg explains.

There's some very critical work that's being done in Kansas City that's being phased out. Guess where that work might be going. The applause Wednesday was in Kansas City. But in Tulsa, there are plenty of big smiles behind the scenes after Wednesday's announcement. "This of course has made many of our members feel a lot more secure."

American announced it would keep the Kansas City base open. But the real story is a little further in the press release on one small line, where the company also announced that it would phase out the narrow-body maintenance operation at that base, but where is it going?

Narrow-body jets like the MD-80 and the 737 are critical to American. Rick Mullings: "That's the main bulk of their fleet is those two airplanes.” Steve Berg: "And therefore, the main bulk of the work that can be done by you guys." Rick Mullings: "Right."

Also important is that over the next few years, American plans to phase out the MD-80 and grow its fleet of 737's until it is the biggest part of its fleet.

So getting the 737 work could secure Tulsa's base for years, even decades to come. "That was the plane we had our eyes on." Tulsa mayor Bill Lafortune is well aware of the impact of the 737. "If they ratchet down the 737 maintenance work that's going on in Kansas City in any way, then we want to be and we should be in a position to get that work here."

Tulsa maintenance base vice-president Carmine Romano told the News on 6 that there's quote "a very good possibility." that Tulsa will get the 737 work from Kansas City.