- Associated Press - Thursday, February 20, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - About 400 projected layoffs will be avoided this year at the American Airlines maintenance base in Tulsa as the airline uses buyouts and attrition to trim its workforce, the company said Wednesday.

The airline previously projected that the Tulsa layoffs were necessary this year because its newer fleet of aircraft required less maintenance. But American announced Wednesday that it’s making other changes to avoid those layoffs.

“As we’re revitalizing our fleet and completing several aircraft modification incentives in anticipation of American’s changing operational needs, we continue to collaborate with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) to find ways to mitigate any potential labor surplus in Tulsa and at the Alliance Airport maintenance base (in the Dallas area),” American Airlines said in a statement. “These efforts to rebalance operations through work schedules and workload will ensure that the impact to our Tulsa and TAESL (Dallas) operations remains minimal.”

The company said it will bring MD-80s to Tulsa for structural inspections and use the Tulsa site to check in its new 737s. The airline says it hopes to gradually reduce numbers at the Tulsa base through attrition, retirement and voluntary buyouts.

“We all knew this was coming sooner or later,” said Jay Potter, Transport Workers Union Local 514 treasurer. “The older planes are retiring, and with the newer planes there’s less maintenance. …. We know it will pick back up eventually. And we hope that as the work picks back up, it comes back here.”

The company has about 6,000 employees at the Tulsa base, which is the primary overhaul facility of the world’s largest airline, the Tulsa World reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/1c4u41e ).

The airline also said Wednesday that it will switch from a five-day work week to a seven-day work week in Tulsa, which will save jobs but require some employees to work weekends.

“We are happy that they are willing to be flexible with the schedule,” Potter said. “There are a lot of people out here that don’t like seven-day schedules but they like their jobs.”

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Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com