Tulsa reacts to American Airlines' union vote

Tuesday, April 15th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tuesday’s vote by American Airlines’ union could mean bad news for many Tulsa area businesses that have the airlines’ many thousands of employees as customers.

News on 6 reporter Patrina Adger talked to some of those folks Tuesday. Up until a couple hours ago, one business owner breathed a sigh of relief that bankruptcy talks were just that, talk. Now - with a 2 to 1 vote, that sigh of relief has turned into just a big sigh. “American is by far our major customer." The marriage between Tom McDonald's Unicorp and American Airlines is 18 years strong.

Unicorp repairs parts for the world's largest airline carrier. For a while, it looked like all three unions would approve the wage and benefits cuts to help the airline avoid bankruptcy, now McDonald is worried. "If they go into chapter 11, outstanding receivables." McDonald would have to rely on other customers to pick up the slack.

Tulsa Mayor Bill Lafortune says if American went under, it would have a huge impact on the city. "Not only the big business, small ones who support them." LaFortune says even if all the unions approve the deal, there would still be layoffs, but with bankruptcy, the number would triple. He's trying to come up ways to help the cash strapped-carrier fly right again. "One area we can look at right now, monthly rental."

LaFortune says the economy needs to bounce back so consumers are confident again, so American can get back on track.

In the past couple of months we've talked to American Airlines employees and their families about the impact a "yes" or "no" decision could have on them. It looks like they'll have to wait another day to see what happens.