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By Mayor Betsy Price, Fort Worth, and Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dallas
FORT WORTH — In 1974, Dallas and Fort Worth opened what has become one of the best airports in the world—DFW International Airport. It was a game changer, and paved the way for American Airlines to move its headquarters from New York to the Metroplex three years later.
Over the past 35 years, American has been a critical corporate citizen. It has invested billions in Fort Worth, Dallas and our airport. It has employed tens of thousands of our friends, family members and neighbors. It has created hundreds of routes that allowed us to grow our businesses and visit families. And it has been a generous supporter of countless local charities and causes. For that we are thankful.
Now, because of an unsustainable business model brought on by industry changes and the reorganization of many of its competitors, the airline and all of its stakeholders faced serious threats that left American Airlines no choice but find resolution through the bankruptcy reorganization process. And although we believe American will come out it stronger, many unanswered questions remain: How will it look post-bankruptcy? Will it be truly competitive for the long haul? What will happen to its employees? Who will sit in the ownership position? And where will the headquarters reside?
As mayors and members of the DFW Airport Board, we can do little to help develop business plans or participate in negotiations with debt holders or unions. But we can speak what we believe.
First: We support American’s endeavor to fundamentally restructure the airline. The company’s leadership has a compelling plan for growth and renewal that will benefit DFW Airport, our cities and the traveling public. If we are to continue our regional progress, we must have a strong locally headquartered company like American Airlines at DFW Airport cultivating the opportunities presented—especially internationally.
Second: We ask all of our citizens to lift up American employees and retirees in our thoughts and prayers during these anxious times. We must support the American Airlines family by engaging local partners—like Workforce Solutions and others—to help find good-paying jobs for those who may find themselves without employment. These highly trained professionals are an asset to our region and we must keep them here.
Third: We urge management and unions to actively negotiate and work hard around the clock and the board room table. It’s troubling when the future of the company and its important labor contracts are put in the hands of a judge instead of the hands of corporate and union leadership who really know best. However, we understand that time is critical. While management took the difficult step of asking the court to adjudicate cost reductions, negotiations should continue. Please keep trying.
American’s loss of $10 billion in the last decade has led to this serious situation. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. If all parties work to make those tough structural decisions, the company will emerge stronger for its creditors, shareholders, employees and our cities. The process will be painful. But, the reward will be retaining a North Texas headquarters here in Dallas/Fort Worth. More importantly, we’ll be able to press forward and continue our progress to create jobs and grow our regional economy as one of the strongest aviation centers in the world.