|Updated: 5/01/2012 10:38 am
||Published: 4/30/2012 9:42 pm
The former American Airlines maintenance base sits on the edge of Kansas City International Airport.
“It is an iconic facility for Kansas City, it is huge,” Danny Rotert, Communications Director for Kansas City Mayor Sly James, told FOX23.
The base fills nearly two million square feet that once housed the maintenance operations for Trans World Airlines.
“At its peak for Kansas City, it's our largest employer,” Rotert said.
But TWA and later American chipped away at the jobs here.
“TWA had a huge presence here,” David Long, Kansas City International’s Deputy Director of Aviation, said.
6,000 in the 1960's dwindled to just 500 two years ago. Many of those jobs were eventually shipped to Tulsa, and in the blink of an eye the mammoth facility was empty, but Long says the city knew it couldn't stay empty for long.
“How do you begin to demolish a facility that's bigger than the Mall of America?”
The airport got to work leasing about two thirds of the former maintenance base. Right now, some of the tenants are aeronautical companies like maintenance work for Midwest Jet and Frontier Airlines. Others are not.
“We never thought in a million years we'd have an electric car company here.”
The hanger where American would service Jumbo jets at Kansas City International Airport has been leased to a wind turbine company.
Long says mergers mean change. If American joins forces with US Airways, or any other airline, he says it is likely that Tulsa’s maintenance base won't be the same
“I think we really looked at what was given to us and we did the best job we could with the information that was given to us at the time,” Long said.
The folks in Kansas City say they learned a lesson, don't expect another big airline to step in, save the job, fill the space, and allow life to go on as it always has.
“The airline business it is a shaky business right now,” Rotert said.
Their advice for Tulsa, “If somebody knocked on the door you answer it.”
Know that spaces like this can't be filled overnight, but they can be filled with a collection of tenants with wings and without.
For now if a non-aeronautical company wants to use these and financially and commercially it makes sense to do so, we do it,” Long said.