As American Airlines prepares to close its Fort Worth Alliance Airport maintenance facility, a neighboring business partner is expanding, potentially befitting from AMR's new plane purchases.
Recaro Aircraft Seating is just down Eagle Parkway from the maintenance base and on Thursday celebrated the inauguration of its Fort Worth facility expansion.
"With this most recent expansion, most aggressive expansion, we're looking to double what our capabilities are," said Kenneth Kellough, executive vice president of Recaro Aircraft Seating Americas.
Prior to the expansion, Recaro was capable of building 20,000 passenger seats a year. The company expects to reach 29,000 seats this year and 40,000 a year in the coming years. When the company opened up shop at the site 15 years ago, it had a third of the space it has now and has gone from 138 employees in April 2009 to more than 355 in Feb. 2013.
"We managed to grow steadily and also very dependably being a very reliable partner for our customers," said Martin Putsch, CEO of Recaro Group. Recaro Aircraft Seating is a subsidiary of Recaro Group.
One key customer is American Airlines.
"Fort Worth is important to us due to proximity to American Airlines, that's the starting point for us," said Dr. Mark Hiller, Chief Executive Officer of Recaro Aircraft Seating. "And on the other hand we have a very good, qualified, motivated work force. So we've had very good experience the last 15 years, also the reason why expanding the site here."
While Recaro expands, American withdraws from Alliance, not that Hiller is concerned about the airline's bankruptcy and possible merger.
"With the history of the airlines in the Americas, we are somehow used to it because a couple of airlines, they went through Chapter 11," Hiller said. "Therefore, it is nothing which is really special."
But Hiller says this is an especially good time to be in the airline industry.
"The airlines in the Americas have ordered new aircraft, really big orders," Hiller said. "And also they start to retrofit their existing fleets with new seats; therefore it's much better in the recent years than years ago."
Recaro has contracts to work on mostly business class seats on American's new 777 airplanes. The company hopes to secure contracts for seats on American’s 787 Dreamliners in the future.
"It's most important, the plant in North America is responsible for the America, the world's biggest market with the world's biggest customers," Putsch said. "You have to be here in order to compete on a global scale and we really want to face the competition where it is."
Recaro also has factories in Germany and Poland and is planning a fourth in China. The Fort Worth facility is and will remain the largest production facility for the company.