Monday, July 25, 2011
Oklahoma has started pitching American Airlines to expand its maintenance base in Tulsa to accommodate a planned new fleet of Airbus aircraft, its governor said.
The European manufacturer's breakthrough order with American Airlines is expected to trigger a contest among states eager to capture the maintenance and repair work for a fleet of hundreds of Airbus A320-family planes.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said in an interview that she had discussed the issue "briefly" with American Airlines officials earlier this week, just ahead of the carrier's disclosure of a record-breaking order for 460 planes--with the potential for 465 more. More than half of the new jets will be made by Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. (EADSY, EAD.FR); the rest will be made by Boeing Co. (BA).
American, a unit of AMR Corp. (AMR), focuses heavy maintenance for its existing all-Boeing fleet at the Tulsa facility, which employs 7,000. AMR said it had yet to decide where the Airbus fleet will be maintained. The scale of its planned Airbus fleet and the strategy of making maintenance a separate profit center makes it likely that AMR will opt to have its own overhaul base for the aircraft.
Oklahoma's early interest, aside from projecting Tulsa, reflects increased competition among U.S. states to retain and attract more aerospace business. Fallin, who took office in January, said the sector is a priority for her administration, which is pushing to establish the state as a center of excellence in the fast-growing market for unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, as well as commercial and military maintenance, repair and overhaul.
By Doug Cameron, DOW JONES NEWSWIRES