Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News
American Airlines plans to outsource Boeing 777 maintenance work to Hong Kong, says a union official who has been briefed on the airline's plans.
Workers at the American Airlines maintenance base at Fort Worth's Alliance Airport say they are angry after learning that many of their jobs will be outsourced -- to Hong Kong.
"This is the result of corporate greed," said Larry Pike, president of the local Transport Workers Union.
Pike, who has been briefed on the airline's plans, said work on Boeing 777 jets, which is now done at Alliance, will go to a Hong Kong company called Haeco.
Hong Kong is a part of China but still enjoys a large measure of independence during a transition period that will last for years.
American Airlines released a statement saying it will never compromise safety no matter where its maintenance work is done and added it will be closely monitored by the airline and by federal regulators.
American also noted that most of its competitors already perform heavy maintenance outside of the country.
Pike questioned whether work outsourced overseas will be done as well.
"We need to keep American jobs in America," he said. "American work needs to stay here with American folks. We don't need to be making other countries profitable off of our products."
American revealed Monday it would close its Alliance base by the end of the year.
Pike said about 400 American employees at Alliance worked on the Boeing 777s and about 700 worked on the Boeing 767s.
Maintenance on the 767s will go to American's facility in Tulsa, he said.
Pike predicted that the 767 work will also be outsourced to Hong Kong within a few years. But American Airlines tells NBC 5 Timco of Greensboro will be handling the maintenance on the airlines 757s, the work on those jets will not be outsourced to Hong Kong.
"It's ironic it's American Airlines going to China," he said. "You would think American Airlines would stay in America. And it's very sad they choose to outsource those jobs. They think they can get it done cheaper. I don't think so."
American is the last major U.S. carrier to do all of its own major overhaul work. Some other airlines also do maintenance work in other countries, including El Salvador.
New Boeing 787 jets will be maintained by Boeing under an agreement American made with the plane-maker, Pike said. New 737s being added to American's fleet will also be maintained by Boeing, he added.
The airline's fleet of 757s will be maintained by Heico Corp., a Florida company unrelated to Haeco, Pike said.
Buddy Padilla, vice president of sales for Heico, denied that the company had been chosen to do heavy maintenance on the 757, adding his firm does not even do that type of work.
In all, more than 1,000 American workers will lose their jobs at Alliance.
Pike said some of his members are undergoing counseling because they are worried about losing their jobs.
"We're just a number, and that's all they see us as," he said.