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Star-Telegram.com

02/28/12: State Sen. Davis wants state fund to be used to save American Airlines jobs

Posted Monday, Feb. 27, 2012

By Andrea Ahles

aahles@star-telegram.com

State and local leaders need to come together to create an incentive package to keep American Airlines from closing its Alliance maintenance base in Fort Worth, state Sen. Wendy Davis said Monday.

"I think there is still more room for a conversation," said Davis, D-Fort Worth. "We need to at least sit down and collectively see if there are some other ideas."

Davis said she sent letters to Gov. Rick Perry and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, inviting them to join together to create an economic incentive package to save American Airlines jobs in Tarrant County.

It is unclear what kind of incentives or tax breaks Texas officials can offer American. The Alliance maintenance facility is owned by Fort Worth, so American does not pay property taxes on it.

Since American's parent company, AMR Corp., filed for bankruptcy in November, Price said that the city has sent a "clear message" that it is willing to do what it can to keep the Alliance facility open.

"Unfortunately, there isn't any incentive that would change the decisions made by American," Price said in a statement on Monday. "The question is not so much what we can do for American Airlines, but what we can do for those employees."

This month, American unveiled its restructuring plan, which would lay off 13,000 workers, terminate pension plans and close the Alliance base, affecting 1,200 workers. Executives say the Fort Worth base was selected for closure because the airline wants to outsource maintenance of wide-body planes serviced there.

Spokesman Tim Smith said American has spoken to the mayor's office on several occasions and affirmed that the mayor had offered to help.

"While all the decisions related to reorganization are extremely difficult, American simply must look at the big picture in making those decisions," said Smith, adding that the choices are not about any single facility. "In all that we do during reorganization, we are focused on saving tens of thousands of jobs companywide so we can be successful, and ultimately grow, when we emerge from this process."

Davis said she believes that the Texas Enterprise Fund could be used to save jobs at AMR or to attract another company into the Alliance facility should American close it. Perry's office has used the fund to give money to companies that invest in the state and create jobs, including Texas Instruments, Vought Aircraft Industries and the former Countrywide Financial.

Perry's office declined to comment as it had not yet received Davis' letter.

Officials in Tulsa, site of American's other maintenance base, have been publicly lobbying American to keep that facility open. The Tulsa base would lose 2,100 positions under the company's restructuring proposal.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631

Twitter: @Sky_Talk

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