A key linchpin in the Fort Worth economy, American Airlines Group Inc., is considering sites for a new headquarters, possibly outside the city, the airline’s CEO said this morning. Speaking with reporters after a speech to the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, American CEO Doug Parker said the company has no timeframe for conducting the search and that it is not key to the airline’s current priorities. When the company does make a decision, it could simply remain in Fort Worth at its current facilities, Parker said. “We may decide to do nothing, which is a decision, of course. There’s no time on this whatsoever. It is not top of the list of all the priorities we have right now,” he said.
Parker emphasized that the company has made no decisions yet. “It’s so preliminary, I don’t’ want anyone to get excited about it. We’re just looking at possibilities,” he said. Still, if the airline would choose to leave Fort Worth where it has been since 1979, it would have a huge impact. The company which employs 25,000 in North Texas, emerged from bankruptcy following a merger with US Airways about a year ago.
Bill Thornton, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, said keeping the airline’s headquarters in the city is a key focus for the organization.
“As one of Fort Worth’s most recognized employers, and with our legacy of aviation industry here, retaining American Airlines’ headquarters is a major focus for the Chamber,” he said in a statement. “We worked with them through the merger approval, and we will continue to work with them as they look at expansion options for their increased employee base.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said the city is working to keep the airline inside the city.
“We are aware of American Airlines’ dialogue about locations for a headquarters,” she said in a statement, “and we are actively participating in the conversation. American Airlines has always been a proud Fort Worth company, and it would be our intention to keep it that way.”
In July, the airline broke ground on a new state-of-the-art, 149,000-square-foot integrated operating center near the company’s headquarters.
Parker is also working to finalize a contract with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American’s 25,000 flight attendants. They narrowly rejected a new five-year contract in early November. The contract included a pay raise to bring American’s flight attendants up to industry standards, but some in the union want profit sharing included. Parker said he believes “the right way to pay people is to give them what they deserve every couple weeks in their paycheck, and not have it tied to whether the company is profitable or not.”