Fort Worth Alliance Airport's developer says the shuttering of American Airlines' maintenance facility will not derail the airport's expansion plans.
AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, announced Wednesday that it would close its maintenance hub at Alliance as part of a five-year plan to save $3 billion per year.
But Hillwood Properties said it will proceed with expansion plans for Alliance that were announced just one day earlier.
"I had someone tell me today that, 'American is Alliance,' and I said, 'No, it's really not,'" said Michael Berry, president of Hillwood Properties.
American was the first tenant on the now 17,000-acre development. But the airline only represents about 3 percent of its workforce, Berry said.
"American was the original project at Alliance, but today Alliance is 31,000 jobs, 250 different companies, 32 million square feet, and American was just one piece of that big platform," he said.
Housing expert Ted Wilson, principal of Residential Strategies in Dallas, said Alliance Airport is one of the most vibrant areas.
"Real estate continues out in that direction, and we think that positive things are still ahead for Dallas-Fort Worth," he said.
The folding of American's maintenance facility at Alliance will leave 1,200 people out of work.
However, the TAESL facility, a joint venture between American Airlines and Rolls Royce at Alliance, will remain open.
Tom Salas, an American Airlines mechanic, said the shock of losing his job made it hard for him to go home. He got off work at 2:15 p.m. but was at nearby Cousins Bar-B-Q at Alliance Town Center at 8 p.m.
"It's just kind of hard to go home," he said. "I don't know what to tell her -- I mean, I don't know what to tell my wife. There's no answer. It just really hurts."
American has been conducting maintenance operations at Alliance for 23 years.
"We have families and stuff. We put our heart and soul into it," Salas said.
He said he doesn't know what tomorrow holds.
"Tomorrow, we don't know if we're going to be locked out. Are they going to escort us in to get our tools, or is it going to be another week? I mean, tell us something, because we have a family," he said.
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