American Airlines plans to significantly reduce its number of older jets, phase out some models entirely and outsource maintenance on others -- measures that enrage union leaders but the company says are necessary to return to profitability.
NBC 5 has learned American plans to:
- Phase out the aging MD-80s, once the backbone of their fleet.
- Reduce its number of 757s.
- And outsource maintenance on the remaining 767s and 777s.
Tulsa and Dallas/Fort Worth will continue doing work on the airline's growing fleet of 737s.
Of the 13,000 jobs American plans to cut, more than half come from the Transport Workers Union. The TWU represents maintenance workers, mechanics and ground workers.
Union leaders say they are angry thousands of jobs will be outsourced to private facilities, perhaps overseas.
"There's a lot of uncertainty about what is going to happen," said Brian Parker, a spokesman for TWU's Local 513 in Southlake. "But it's not just an American Airlines thing. It's an America thing. It's all across the nation. It's corporate greed."
The airline has said restructuring is not about greed -- but its very survival.
American plans to cut 4,600 maintenance and mechanic jobs and 4,200 ground workers in order to emerge as a profitable company.
Analysts point out American's competitors already use private facilities to overhaul planes. Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, for example, does some maintenance work in El Salvador.
"It's simple math," said Rick Seaney, who follows the airline industry as owner of FareCompare.com. "It costs less to do that. It costs more to do it here. You know, that's what they're looking at doing. They have to cut costs."
Generally, American plans to do it by modernizing its fleet and eliminating older, gas-guzzling planes, such as the MD-80.
"If oil stays above a hundred [dollars a barrel], they have to get rid of those jets," Seaney said.
Newer planes also need less maintenance -- another reason workers stand to lose their jobs.
Parker said the average age of ground service workers is 47 or 48 years old with 19 or 20 years tenure.
"So these are seasoned employees -- it's a career," he said. "It's not just a job."
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