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American Airlines Seeks Bond Sales Approval To Follow Through On Major Upgrades To Airport Facility

American Airlines

American Airlines told the Tulsa City Council Wednesday that it wants to move forward on hundreds of millions of dollars in planned improvements to its maintenance facility at Tulsa International Airport.

At a virtual meeting of the urban and economic development committee, the council heard an agenda item to approve "the incurring of indebtedness by the Trustees of the Tulsa Municipal Airport Trust for the purpose of financing, refinancing, or reimbursing the costs of the design, construction, acquisition, renovation, equipping and rehabilitation of upgrades, repairs, and improvements to maintenance shops, hangars, the utility plant, the plating shop, and other facilities located at the American Airlines Overhaul and Maintenance Base at Tulsa International Airport... ."

John Weidman, an attorney representing the city in the matter, told the council the resolution would not incur any debt for the city and all costs would be covered by American.

Erik Olund, managing director of base maintenance for American, said the airline is slowing or stopping capital projects around the world due to the economic downturn in the industry caused by the pandemic, but their Tulsa Tech-Ops operation is vital to their entire network and the announced improvements were not considered for cancelation.

"There's not been a single question from our entire leadership team about that from day one," Olund told the council.

"You see large terminals in airports across the world and the country that we will slow projects down there and do other things, but Tulsa is one we're full speed ahead on," Olund said. "That just goes to show you how important this facility is to us."

The maintenance facility employs about 5,200, Olund said.

Kian Kamas, the city's chief of economic development, said the plans were the result of years of work between the airline and the city.

"We're always very excited to have the opportunity to announce investments of this magnitude," Kamas said. 

The council is scheduled to vote on the resolution at a meeting on Nov. 18.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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