With newer planes joining its fleet, American Airlines may need fewer mechanics at its big Tulsa maintenance base next year.American management told union leaders this week that the carrier could have 400 unneeded workers in the first quarter of 2014, and their union relayed the news.“As many of you are aware, as the older fleets are retired and new aircraft are brought on board, we are faced with the challenge of dealing with the required maintenance need declining year over year,” Transport Workers Union local 514 president Dale Danker said in note to members obtained by the Tulsa World.American spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said the carrier is working with union leaders to mitigate any layoffs through either voluntary leave programs or by bringing in more work to the Tulsa base.“American’s operational needs for 2014 are still being assessed as we revitalize our fleet and complete several aircraft modification initiatives. While no final decisions have been made, we will let our people know of any changes at the appropriate time,” said Huguely, adding that any possible cuts are not related to its pending merger with US Airways.The carrier employs about 6,300 workers at its Tulsa facility, which performs major overhaul and maintenance work on its aircraft. American closed its other maintenance base at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth last year, shifting work to Tulsa and to third-party maintenance companies.Separately, a court hearing scheduled to discuss American Airlines’ lease on its Alliance Airport maintenance base in Fort Worth has been moved to Oct. 16.In a bankruptcy filing made on Wednesday, attorneys were notified that the hearing scheduled for next week had been pushed back and that objections to American’s termination of its lease could still be filed.In August, American reached a deal with the city of Fort Worth to terminate its lease so another company could use the building.Under the agreement, filed in court, American will receive $9.75 million from AFW Solutions, which will assume the lease for the 1.8 million-square-foot facility. American will also pay $1.5 million to assume leased equipment that it continues to use at the engine overhaul facility that it operates with Rolls-Royce at Alliance.The maintenance hangar first opened in 1991 and could hold several wide-body plans in its docks at one time. Currently, American pays a base rent of $100 per year but is also obligated to pay charges and expenses for the facility estimated at $7 million annually.
Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk