With confetti cannons firing streamers and airplanes taking off above, American Airlines officially opened a new operations center near its headquarters south of DFW Airport on Tuesday.
The nerve center for the Fort Worth-based carrier houses 1,600 employees who oversee the daily operations of the world’s largest airline, marking another step in combining the American and US Airways workforces.
“The opening of this new facility is an important milestone in our integration,” said American’s Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker. “The IOC is our mission control staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
The Robert W. Baker Integrated Operations Center cost $88 million to build. The two-story, 149,000-square-foot building is adjacent to the carrier’s flight academy and the C.R. Smith Museum, on the west side of Texas 360 at Airport Freeway.
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Baker was a longtime American executive who retired in 2002 after working at the company for more than 35 years and overseeing its operations. He died of lung cancer in 2003 at age 58.
The IOC is our mission control staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Doug Parker, American CEO
American received a $6.5 million tax incentive for the project from the city of Fort Worth that will last 15 years. It closed a former US Airways operations center near Pittsburgh and moved about 600 positions to join with American’s former operations team in Fort Worth.
“Bringing everyone under one huge roof is a big undertaking,” said American’s Chief Operating Officer Robert Isom. “You will see people here around the clock always; 190 million customers a year, 600,000 customers a day, rely on folks here to do their jobs and do it well to get people where they need to go.”
The Integrated Operations Center houses flight dispatch, crew scheduling, maintenance operation control, air traffic control and system customer service for American, along with several other departments.
The building was designed to withstand winds of an EF-3 tornado (about 136 to 165 mph) and the second floor has custom ceilings with heights up to 22 feet.
The IOC is the first new building to be added in more than 20 years on American’s flight academy campus, which also includes the flight training center, the flight attendant academy and the Fort Worth reservations center.
Parker said the company is still examining whether or not it will build a new headquarters building in North Texas or stay in its current headquarters buildings on Amon Carter Boulevard, located on the east side of Texas 360. Officials in Fort Worth and Irving have both had discussions with American about a new headquarters site.
“We really like having the team together and I will say if and when we ever decide to move, Fort Worth has a huge head start,” Parker said, citing the new IOC and other nearby facilities. “That’s what management is supposed to support … I don’t think we should, as other companies do today, [manage] from afar.”
IOC by the numbers
▪ 150,000 square feet of space
▪ Designed to withstand an EF3 tornado (about 165 to 185 mph)
▪ 2.1 million pounds of structural steel used in construction
▪ 2,800 miles of media cabling installed with equates to 1.7 million linear feet
▪ 40 individual 80-inch large-screen televisions in control center
▪ 1,600 employees with combined 30,000 years of experience
Source: American Airlines