American Airlines likely to close Pittsburgh operations center

Doug Parker said airline would not need 2 centers.
Doug Parker said airline would not need 2 centers. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff)
Posted: March 30, 2013

The new American Airlines may close a flight operations center outside Pittsburgh in a couple of years, and the jobs would move to American's larger operations control center in Dallas, US Airways chief executive officer Doug Parker said.

Parker, who will lead the new American after the merger with US Airways, said this week that no decision had been made, but that the combined airline, which will be based in Fort Worth, Texas, would not need two operations control centers.

Many of the 500 workers who now coordinate US Airways' 3,000 daily flights near the Pittsburgh airport will be offered jobs in Dallas, he said.

The future of the Pittsburgh facility has been a concern to many employed there. "We've been really candid with everybody who asks. It's unlikely [Pittsburgh will remain open] because the Dallas operations control center is so much larger," Parker said.

He has said no unionized employees at either airline would lose their jobs, but there will be job losses among nonunion employees and management.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that the jobs of 300 nonunion workers at the flight operations center were in jeopardy.

If that facility, relocated from Phoenix to Pittsburgh in 2008 after the merger of America West and US Airways, closes, it would be another blow to Pittsburgh. In 2004, US Airways eliminated Pittsburgh as a hub, and the airport lost hundreds of jobs and flights.

US Airways said Thursday that 4,970 noncontract employees companywide qualified for severance packages if they are not part of the new company. US Airways has 32,213 employees.

On Feb. 14, when the merger was announced, American and US Airways sent letters to management, professional, and administrative employees that if they were terminated, they would receive severance, including pay and subsidized health insurance, based on employment level.

So far, no one has received a pink slip in Pittsburgh or anywhere else, US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher said.

The letter was "intended to provide employees with a sense of security, as our desire is to maintain the stability of our workforce throughout the integration process," Lehmacher said.

The merger still requires federal regulatory approval, a joint Federal Aviation Administration operating certificate, and integration of flight schedules, reservation, and computer systems. The process could take two years.

When US Airways built the operations control center in Moon Township, the cost was $32.1 million. US Airways' portion was about $29 million, Lehmacher said. US Airways received $3 million to $4 million in state grants, as well as tax credits tied to the number of jobs created.

"The airline has fully lived up to the terms of those agreements," Lehmacher said. "No additional subsidies or grant money was ever received.

"As we continue to plan for the potential merger, and make decisions in the future, we will keep our coworkers and neighbors in the Pittsburgh community accurately informed," he said.


Contact Linda Loyd at 215-854-2831 or lloyd@phillynews.com.

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