Aviation jobs cuts would cost Oklahoma

Wednesday, September 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Plans by American Airlines and Boeing Co. to lay off thousands of employees could be particularly bad news for Oklahoma's second largest city.

American Airlines has a maintenance center in Tulsa that employs 9,700, while Boeing employs 1,500 here. Boeing plans to cut as many as 30,000 jobs companywide, while the parent company of American Airlines has announced 20,000 layoffs.

Tulsa is the hub of the state's private-sector aviation employment.

The city has 320 aerospace companies, employing 32,000 workers and providing a $992 million annual payroll.

Aviation companies have an estimated $3.3 billion economic impact on the five-county Tulsa metropolitan area.

Airlines were already struggling through difficult economic times when terrorist attacks in New York and Washington last week caused the Federal Aviation Administration to temporarily stop all commercial air travel. Demand for air travel has dropped sharply and the airline industry has asked for $24 billion from the federal government to help keep it afloat.

Texas-based AMR Corp., American's parent, did not provide immediate information on where it would lay off workers. But reductions in Tulsa seem likely.

``If airlines aren't flying planes as much, it seems like there would be less need for maintenance,'' University of Oklahoma economist David Penn said. ``I think the chances of it affecting the maintenance in Tulsa are strong.''

Chicago-based Boeing also did not specify where its layoffs would occur. But the aviation giant said it will lay off workers on all types of aircraft.

Boeing also has a huge presence in Washington state and a plant in Wichita, Kan.

``This is a regional headquarters here, so my guess is that the Seattle and the Puget Sound area and Wichita are going to take some hits and so will we,'' said Jay Clemens, president of the Tulsa Metro Chamber.

Meanwhile, increased military funding after the attacks could lead to an increase in aerospace-related employment at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, Penn said. Altus and Enid also have Air Force bases.