American will lay off fewer mechanics than planned
By Cynthia Wilson Post-Dispatch
updated: 09/25/2003 08:08 AM
American Airlines will lay off fewer mechanics than previously planned when the carrier cuts its schedule at Lambert Field this fall.
Instead, American will set up two maintenance-overhaul lines at Lambert next spring to modify the cockpits and cabins of some TWA Airlines LLC planes so they match the layout of similar planes that American operates.
The airline, a unit of AMR Corp. and based in Fort Worth, Texas, also said Wednesday that it will consolidate its operations at Lambert into concourses B and C after it trims flights there on Nov. 1, and will vacate some office space. American now flies out of concourses B, C and D.
Mike Donat, a spokesman for Lambert, said he was unsure which airline, if any, would occupy the gates on Concourse D that American will give up. He said American would continue to pay rent on the gates until its contract expires or until another airline leases them.
By February, all flights on jets flown by American and its affiliates - including flights aboard smaller, regional jets - will board on Concourse C, said Julia Bishop-Cross, a spokeswoman for American.
Flights on turboprops operated by American's affiliates will board on Concourse B.
Bishop-Cross said the office consolidation will make room for more upscale eateries in Concourse C.
Meanwhile, the jet-conversion project will save about 190 of the 350 mechanic jobs the airline had planned to cut when it slashes the number of daily departures to 207 from 417.
American is speeding up its schedule to modify TWA's fleet of MD
-80s, also known as Super 80s, because maintaining two versions of the plane is "complex and complicated," Bishop-Cross said.
TWA Airlines LLC is a subsidiary that American set up to hold assets it bought from bankrupt Trans World Airlines until the airlines are fully combined.
Although much of TWA has been merged into American's system, airplanes flown by the two airlines continue to operate under different Federal Aviation Administration certificates.
"If the opportunity arises to speed up the conversion process, we will take advantage of it," Bishop-Cross said.
Bishop-Cross said 36 of TWA LLC's aircraft have been modified to operate under American's certificate, but 67 of TWA LLC's MD
-80s have yet to be converted. She said 17 will be modified in St. Louis.
Until now, American had assigned the modification work to its overhaul base in Kansas City.
The airline decided to move some of the work to St. Louis because it would save jobs, its work force here has experience with the airplanes and because "the resizing of the St. Louis hub made these workers available to do the work," said Bishop-Cross.
Stephen Prehn, secretary-treasurer of Transport Workers Union Local 529, said the union is pleased that some members will be spared the trauma of losing their jobs.
"It's great because I don't want those members to go through what I'm going through or people before me, having to look for another job or relocate the family," Prehn said.
Still, he said it's a temporary fix because the mechanics' work will last only as long as it takes to modify the planes.
Meanwhile, nearly 1,000 other TWU members - including more than 800 fleet-service workers at Lambert - either will lose their jobs or be forced to relocate because American will offer flights on more airplanes operated by regional carriers than on its own equipment, Prehn said.
American estimates the airplane modification project here will be completed by the end of next year. Bishop-Cross said American is looking at ways to continue the mechanics' employment beyond that, but the airline isn't ready to announce anything.
Reporter Cynthia Wilson:
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Wow I gu7ess you can consider it a mix of good news and bad news for the people of St. Louis. Its sad to see the TWA MD
-80's are being rushed. I kinda hoped they would still stay under the TWA LLC name even though I knew it wouldn't last long....
Well any comments??