American Airlines will no longer need to cut 400 workers from its Tulsa maintenance base and 70 employees from an engine maintenance facility in Fort Worth after deciding to go to seven-day-a-week operations at the facilities.American told union leaders Thursday that by shifting the engine maintenance facility, called TAESL, to a seven-day operation from five days, it will save jobs. TAESL is a joint venture with Rolls-Royce that employs about 600 workers at Alliance Airport.“Enhanced seven-day coverage at either location is cost-effective, saves jobs, and provides opportunities for our employees. In addition, the increased flexibility provides both organizations the ability to absorb additional work, if necessary,” the Transport Workers union said in a message posted on its website.The company will be able to keep all 6,300 workers busy at Tulsa by shifting Boeing 737 and MD80 work to the overhaul maintenance base. The work is currently handled at the maintenance hangar at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, which will be able to focus on new delivered aircraft. American signaled earlier that it would need to trim more maintenance jobs.American is also offering voluntary buyouts to Tulsa workers but does not have a specific goal for how many workers it hopes will leave. “As we’re revitalizing our fleet and completing several aircraft modification incentives in anticipation of American’s changing operational needs, we continue to collaborate with the Transport Workers Union to find ways to mitigate any potential labor surplus in Tulsa and at the Alliance Airport maintenance base (AFW) - TAESL,” the company said in a statement. “These efforts to rebalance operations through work schedules and workload will ensure that the impact to our Tulsa and TAESL operations remains minimal.”In early 2013, American closed its maintenance base at Alliance, shifting the work to Tulsa and to third-party companies. Even though American has exited bankruptcy, it has not resolved its lease on the Alliance facility.American asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Feb. 6 to push back a hearing on the Alliance lease until mid-March. In August, American reached a deal with the city of Fort Worth to terminate its lease so another company could use the building. The agreement, filed in court, said American would receive $9.75 million from AFW Solutions while American would pay $1.5 million for equipment it uses at TAESL. The agreement has not been finalized by the court.
Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk