For Doug Parker, the chief executive of American Airlines Group, it might be just “one of the things that we’re looking at,” but any hint that the airline might move its headquarters from Fort Worth is a big deal.
Parker told reporters there are “a number of options including staying exactly where we are.” American’s administrative offices and thousands of employees are in two Amon Carter Boulevard office buildings on the city’s far east side, just south of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
Star-Telegram writer Andrea Ahles reported on Parker’s comments in Friday’s newspaper.
He called the current facilities “perfectly acceptable.” But “acceptable” carries with it the hint of a wish for something better.
Then he bolstered that hint by saying flatly that the company is “just wondering if there might be a better opportunity.”
American has about 25,000 employees in North Texas. One of its two headquarters buildings is 800,000 square feet and the other is 625,000.
Any city in North Texas — or the nation — and thousands of office developers and real estate agents would salivate at the thought of attracting such a corporate client.
In fact, there’s been reason to wonder about this for at least a year. In October 2013, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, now the governor-elect, settled a lawsuit he had filed to block the merger of American and US Airways.
The settlement included a promise from American to keep the merged airline’s headquarters in North Texas for at least three years. Why such a short fuse?
There’s every reason to take Parker at his word that a move “is not on the top of the list with all the priorities we have right now.”
The top of the list has to be completing the integration of the airlines and reaching labor agreements with key employee groups.
But apparently American has a wandering eye, maybe even open arms for suitors.
Fort Worth can play that game. Mayor Betsy Price and Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce President Bill Thornton are already playing.
No reason to be shy.