When US Airways and American Airlines announced their $11 billion merger on February 14, the new company was expected to retain fleet and ground service in Pittsburgh, with flight operations located in Moon Township.
But now that might not be the case after US Airways Chairman Doug Parker, who will be CEO of the new American Airlines, told employees last week that the Pittsburgh-area Operations and Control Center (OOC) could be shut down in a few years.
“We’re concerned,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “We’re being very aggressive in putting our case forward to preserve these jobs. We’re not just sitting back and waiting and seeing; we’re being proactive.”
The OOC opened in 2008 and has about 700 employees.
According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which must approve the merger, Parker told US Airways employees that the consolidated airline won’t need two operations control centers, and if he “had to bet right now,” the Moon Township facility would be the one to close and jobs “would move to Dallas.”
While concerned, Fitzgerald said he’s not surprised by Parker’s comments.
“I think this is part and parcel of discussions that many people have had with US Airways and the new entity that will emerge,” Fitzgerald said. “ I know they’ve had discussions with the governor’s office, with our Congressional delegation, and we’ve certainly talked to them. We’re concerned that our operations center will be in jeopardy.”
The county and the Airport Authority are making their case to keep the OOC open.
“We think ours is a better, more efficient fit for them,” Fitzgerald said.
The OOC cost $25 million, about two thirds of which came from public subsidies.
So are US Airways and American looking for another financial incentive?
“It’s very early on in the discussions,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s hard to say. They haven’t come back with anything as of yet, but I’m sure that may occur at some point.”