Owasso braces for impact with American Airlines layoffs

OWASSO, Okla. - It's a waiting game for hundreds of families in Owasso after American Airlines announced it will cut at least  2,100 positions at its Tulsa maintenance base.

The city says 11 percent of its population depends on American Airlines to make a living. Although the pink slips have not been handed out yet, city officials say the layoffs will have a major impact.

For employees and their families, the future is up in the air.

"There's a lot of people worried, and they should be. I mean, you don't know if you'll have a job tomorrow," said Terry, whose wIfe works at American Airlines.

They moved to Owasso from Kansas City less than a year ago after American Airlines shut down its overhaul base there.

"We've been in limbo since they closed the plant in Kansas City," Terry said.

Terry worries about more than his wife's job. He has seen the effects layoffs can have on a city.

"Up in Kansas City, there's a lot of empty houses and stuff, because they moved the base," he said.

Talk to anyone in Owasso and chances are they have family or friends that work at American Airlines.  

"There are real people who are going to be in real danger. With their homes, and their college education fund, their retirement fund," said city manager Rodney Ray.

Ray says the layoffs could hurt Owasso's housing market, retail and quality of life.

"The economy of the Tulsa Metro area and the northeast Oklahoma area is going to be impacted by this in a way we've never seen before if we don't do something," he said.

He says it will take a team effort to bring more training and jobs to the area. Soon more than 2,000 positions will be gone for good.

"We've suffered through those. Each time we've gotten a little bit better. And each time the layoffs were made with the pretty much absolute understanding that there would be a recovery. This time, there will be no recovery," Ray said.

Right now the unions are in talks with the airline company to come to an agreement.

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