County, state officials in talks with US Airways to preserve 600 jobs
County and state officials are reviewing incentive agreements that US Airways signed for its Moon flight operations center to see if they have leverage to keep the company from moving 600 jobs out of the state, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said on Thursday.
Airline executives are talking with county and state politicians, the Western Pennsylvania congressional delegation and business leaders, Fitzgerald said.
He declined to specify whether public officials made any offers to US Airways, which in 2007 received $4 million in state grants and tax credits to retain 450 jobs and create 150 positions at the center that opened in 2008.
“We're going to do everything we can do to preserve those jobs,” Fitzgerald said.
The airline plans to merge with American Airlines this year. It said last week that it might close the $32 million Moon center in a couple of years and move the work of coordinating systemwide flights to Texas. American has a larger flight operations center in Dallas.
US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher would not comment on the talks in Pittsburgh.
Although US Airways was offered $16.25 million in local and state incentives to build the flight operations center near Pittsburgh International Airport, it accepted from the state a $1.25 million infrastructure development grant, $2 million in opportunity grants and $750,000 in tax credits, according to the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
Department spokesman Steve Kratz said the incentive agreements required US Airways to maintain employment for three years. He would not say whether the state might offer the airline more incentives to stay.
Dennis Davin, the county's Economic Development director and a member of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, declined to comment.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, has written to executives with American Airlines and US Airways. Casey said preserving jobs “is of the utmost importance for the regional economy.”
The senator asked the airlines to extend US Airways' maintenance-hangar lease in Pittsburgh beyond 2015.
Including the operations center workers, US Airways employs about 1,800 people in Western Pennsylvania. The company operates 41 daily departures from Pittsburgh, down from its peak of 512 in 2001 when Pittsburgh was one of its hubs.
At one time, the company employed 12,000 people in the region. Allegheny County built the $920 million airport in 1992 largely to accommodate US Airways. The company went from paying $50 million a year in 1997 toward the county's roughly $59 million in annual debt service to about $10 million a year as it cut the number of flights from Pittsburgh.
When US Airways announced the American Airlines merger last month, it provided details of severance packages to nearly 5,000 nonunion employees, including 300 at the Moon center. Lehmacher said no layoffs have occurred in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.
“This is only if a non-contract employee is not offered a job in the new organization,” he said.
Jim Vitale, a member of Moon's board of supervisors, said the township is “disappointed” that US Airways could leave. But Vitale said he understands the airline must make a business decision.
“I'm not angry over it,” he said. “It's unfortunate for us. ... But I can see that they feel that it's better for them.”
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- University of Pittsburgh researchers revisit war of electric currents
- Pennsylvania Game Commission reaps revenue from shale gas under game lands
- As historic breakup nears, Alcoa works to redefine its ‘advantage’
- Energy Spotlight: Minking Chyu
- Older workers try to cut back on hours at job
- Program lets public service workers be forgiven for student debt
- Union leaders warn Post-Gazette newsroom of possible layoffs
- Batteries key to alternative energy’s success
- Asian bug threatens oranges in Florida
- Yahoo investors losing patience with ‘star’ CEO Marissa Mayer
- Black Friday chaos dwindles thanks to earlier deals, online sales