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American Airlines plans $550 million boost to Oklahoma base

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(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TULSA, Okla. – American Airlines said Friday it will invest $550 million in a seven-year overhaul of its largest maintenance base, including a new hangar to service the airline’s biggest planes.

The base in Tulsa is American’s largest maintenance operation and handles nearly half of the airline’s maintenance work. American has more than 5,500 employees at the base, including 600 jobs added last year.

American said it expects to begin construction early next year on a new 193,000-square-foot hangar capable of holding two large widebody aircraft — the biggest planes typically used on international routes — or up to six smaller planes. It will replace two smaller hangars.

The airline also plans a new support building with office space, and replacements or upgrades to roofs, utilities, information technology and repairs to ramp areas where planes are parked.

Chairman and CEO Doug Parker made the announcement to employees gathered in a hangar, with one of the airline’s planes in the background. Many base employees are represented by the Transport Workers Union and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which recently reached a tentative agreement with American on a new labor contract. A ratification vote is expected in the coming weeks.

American, based in Fort Worth, Texas, reported net income of $1.7 billion last year as it benefited from strong travel demand and a modest drop in the price of jet fuel.