KCUR News
3:16 pm
Wed October 28, 2009

Era Ending: No Fix For KCI Repair Base

Kansas City, Mo. – There is no obvious fix, as American Airlines' KCI overhaul base has been shaved to the bone.' It will close next September. Kansas City will still be paid rent of $1.1 Million a year for more than a decade, as required by contract.

As many as 700 people, managers and union, will lose jobs or have to move to another city. St. Louis line operations will downsize. Some estimates say there are as few at 490 employees currently at the KCI base. When it was owned by Trans World Airlines there were as many as ten thousand men and women who worked at the sprawling compound of avionics, airframe and engine shops. The base has it's origins in the 1950's era.

American's KCI shops have had less and less work in recent years. Mark Van Loh is city aviation director told KCUR news-- "American has shrunk down by several hundred airplanes. So they just don't need this kind of space anymore." American officials say the fleet has shrunk from more than 900 planes to approximately 600 today.

City leaders were given the word by airline officials in a closed meeting October 27th and held to secrecy until base employees could be told in person the next day. In a letter from airline vice president Carmine Romano, workers were told some could bump others with less seniority if they move to Tulsa or headquarters in Fort Worth. Some in Kansas City and St. Louis may take a buyout of $12,500 if they leave before next September.

Romano's letter says,"We are a company that takes responsibility for ourselves and has never used the bankruptcy process to cut costs."