American Airlines adding 400 jobs to Tulsa maintenance center

The city of Tulsa got good news this week when American Airlines announced it would add 400 jobs to its maintenance operation where there are already 5,200 employees.

The Tulsa World reports that additional maintenance work such as scheduled maintenance on the Boeing 787 fleet created a new for new positions at Tech Ops Tulsa. Erik Olund, managing director of the base maintenance for American Airlines told the newspaper the hiring would be primarily for FAA-licensed mechanics and would continue over the next four months.

“It’s a huge day for us at the Tulsa base,” he said by phone. “We’re growing the organization considerably, and we haven’t had a hiring announcement like this in over a decade … This kind of paves the future for us to be here for a very long time.”

The bulk of the jobs, he said, are “certainly at the higher end of our pay scales. These are employees that are at the high point of their career. They are six-figure positions.”

The new mechanics will focus on areas that include aircraft overhaul, landing gear overhaul for the Boeing 737 and 777 aircraft and CFM56 engine maintenance and Airbus A321 interior modifications. In late 2019, the base will receive its first 787 aircraft to undergo scheduled maintenance checks.

Additionally, the base will increase its 777 and 787 maintenance work and will make investments into the Landing Gear Shop, enabling greater production.

American’s announcement comes against the backdrop of a recent court decision involving the airline’s federal lawsuit against the Transport Workers Union of America and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, whom American accused of taking part in an illegal work slowdown. A federal judge in Texas issued a permanent injunction earlier this month, ordering the unions to tell workers to take all steps to avoid interfering with American’s operations.

Moreover, the two sides remain in a labor fight. Since the late 2015 merger of American, which had TWU contracts, and US Airways, which had IAM contracts, joint contracts have not been negotiated. 

“Any kind of additional work out here is always received well,” Dale Danker, president of TWU Local 514, said by phone. “It helps everybody. It’s like when they say a high tide raises all boats. It will be good for this city, the county and the state.”

Tech Ops Tulsa, also known as Tulsa Maintenance Base, has 22 buildings on the main base, including 3.3 million square feet of hangar and shop space on 330 acres. American performs more maintenance work in-house than any other airline and employs more than 15,000 Tech Ops professionals worldwide.

Referring to the airline’s legacy in Tulsa, Mayor G.T. Bynum said “…this announcement not only reaffirms American’s continuing commitment to Tulsa, but also the great benefit our community receives from investments like this. I’m grateful to the hard-working team at American for their partnership and am excited to see the impact of this work.”

Olund said the base will lean on partners such as OK2Grow, Tulsa Tech and Spartan Aeronautics to help fill the additional jobs.

“The good news for us is when we turn the hiring button on, we seem to get an amazing amount of candidates who are ready to come to work for us,” he said. “We’re super excited. We’re not nervous that we won’t be able to fill these spots. We’re really excited. We have a lot of interest in it already, and we’re on a good path.

“(Wednesday’s) announcement is really about the fact that we are in Tulsa forever. We’re not going anywhere. We’re growing. It’s important for our team and the community to know how important Tulsa is for us, regardless of any of the other stuff that we’ve got going on.”