Tulsa jobs to be slashed among airline's plan

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- American Airlines is expected to slash about 2,100 jobs at its maintenance facility in Tulsa under a bankruptcy reorganization plan released by its parent company, a spokesman for the airline said Wednesday.

The Tulsa Maintenance Base, where mechanics overhaul several types of aircrafts and jet engines, currently employs about 6,800 workers, spokesman Tim Smith said.

AMR Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November, and released a proposal Wednesday saying it planned to eliminate about 13,000 jobs, or 15 percent of its workforce. The cuts will mostly affect maintenance workers and baggage handlers, but also will include flight attendants, management employees and pilots. AMR also is proposing an end to its traditional pension plans.

"This is obviously a very, very difficult day for our employees and the entire company," Smith said.

Smith said the plan released Wednesday is the starting point for union negotiations, but that the company is "hopeful we can reach a consensual agreement soon."

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and other state officials said they were disappointed, but not surprised by the airline's announcement. They expressed optimism that the maintenance facility in Tulsa will remain operational.

"The good news in this otherwise unfortunate situation is that the maintenance facility is going to remain open, which means some jobs will stay, and in the future jobs may even return," Inhofe said in a statement. "I don't want to give anyone false hope about the future, but I will work diligently with the City of Tulsa, American Airlines, and the rest of the Oklahoma congressional delegation to find ways to mitigate the impact on the community while keeping Tulsa a strong business partner for American and others."

Gov. Mary Fallin said Wednesday's announcement shows the company is committed to maintain a large presence in Tulsa.

"Their communications with employees and with my office indicate they are working to preserve as many jobs as possible, and that Tulsa will not be left out of America's restricting plans," Fallin said. "All of this is good news."

Since taking office last year, Fallin has emphasized the aviation and aerospace industry in Oklahoma, and she said Wednesday that the laid-off workers have valuable skill sets that should allow them to continue their careers in Oklahoma.