Archive for Thursday, July 31, 2003

K.C. leaders working to keep American Airlines center open

July 31, 2003

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— Gov. Bob Holden and Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Kay Barnes pledged Wednesday to try and hammer out a deal that will convince American Airlines to keep a large maintenance operation in Kansas City.

State and city officials met for about 30 minutes in the governor's office to discuss how the state and city can work together to try to convince American to keep open its Kansas City overhaul base, preserving more than 2,000 jobs.

In order to reduce its losses, American has recently made drastic cuts, including reducing the size of its St. Louis hub, which resulted in 2,000 lost jobs.

Missouri officials also are concerned because American has maintenance bases at its corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, and in Tulsa, Okla.

Earlier this month, Barnes submitted a plan to American in which the city offered rent breaks and the reissuance of up to $200 million in revenue bonds to improve the overhaul facility. The state had pledged to kick in $600,000 annually to support the annual debt service on the bonds.

"As I told the mayor today, my administration is committed to doing everything possible and reasonable to convince the airline to preserve their facility and it's jobs," Holden said.

Holden said the state is considering the use of other tax incentives programs that could be used to repair and overhaul the Kansas City facility.

Tim Wagner, a spokesman for American Airlines in Fort Worth, said the company would not comment on any specific proposals.

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