American Airlines' Bankruptcy: What Does It Mean For Tulsa?

American Airlines' largest maintenance base is in Tulsa and is one of the area's largest employers with more than seven-thousand workers. But, there are also a number of other local businesses that depend on the airline for contract work or other business.Workers at the maintenance facility say their salaries and benefits could be at risk. An organizer for the Transport Workers Union says union members, pilots and flight attendants have already given back one-billion dollars a year in salaries and benefits to help the company deal with debt.John Hewitt, the president of the mechanics union says job security will likely be a major target of this process.There are still many questions as to what this means for our community. Fred Russell manages investments and watches companies like American."Every other major carrier except Southwest has gone through bankruptcy," Russell says. "Some more than others. And, just because American is going to do this now doesn't mean this will be the last of it."High fuel and labor costs and large amounts of debt are what Russell says led to the filing. As a result, he predicts union employees could see smaller paychecks and employer contributions to their retirement plans. For American's customers there is also a price to pay."You might see such things as flight cancellations, American redirection, number of flights to cities, you may see flights being cancelled."An effort to save costs could change the make up of America's maintenance facility which employs more than seven thousand people in Tulsa. The airlines' partnership with the City of Tulsa has provided many great savings to American over the years. The local chamber says now is not the time to bail on American."We realize there are a number of capital needs that they are going to need will be required that Tulsa is going to have to continue to invest in a partnership fashion with American," says Chamber President Mike Neal.