The handwriting was on the wall last year, when American Airlines announced plans to move several hundred jobs at its Kansas City overhaul base to Tulsa, Okla. Yet Wednesday still brought a disheartening note of finality: Next September, the facility will close.
It will be a sad end for an enterprise that at one time employed 10,000 people, now down to about 500.
Kansas City officials should ensure that the 25-year lease American signed in 2005 is fully enforced or properly bought out. The carrier’s annual lease payments are about $1.1 million.
In addition, any buyout should also cover the roughly $500,000 a year it costs for ongoing environmental cleanup at the city-owned facility at Kansas City International Airport.
The overhaul base was built by Trans World Airlines and opened in 1956. It once was the largest such facility in the world. But over the years, the work force steadily dwindled.
American bought TWA in 2001, before the Sept. 11 attacks. The ensuing dislocations in commercial air travel were a major blow, as was last summer’s spike in oil prices. In its letter announcing the closing of the facility, American said its fleet has dropped from 900 planes to about 600.
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