American Airlines planes sit idle on the runway at Tulsa International Airport

American Airlines’ 777 airplanes are parked at Tulsa International Airport. The out-of-service airplanes sit idle at the airport as a result of a reduced flight schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file

The COVID-19 shutdown has hit the nation’s airlines hard.

Recently, the Tulsa World’s Rhett Morgan reported that only 187 people went through Tulsa International Airport’s security checkpoint in a day, and that count included airport workers. A year before, the number would have been closer to 5,000.

Nationwide, air travel numbers have plummeted, putting airlines in a huge financial bind.

But the local American Airlines manager says the company is “absolutely” sticking with its plan to invest $550 million in its Tulsa operations

“Nothing has changed from our perspective of the importance of Tulsa, the investment in Tulsa and what needs to happen in Tulsa,” Erik Olund told Morgan. “It all points forward for the project.”

The company announced earlier this year that it plans a seven-year revitalization of its Tulsa facility, including replacement of two outdated hangars, one additional hangar and a new base support building. That will ensure the base’s use for years to come.

Part of the plan may end up happening later than originally anticipated, Olund said, but the company’s long-term strategy still projects a heavy presence in Tulsa.

So far, American hasn’t had any layoffs at its Tulsa facility, the largest of its kind in the world. That’s the best economic news Tulsa has gotten since the COVID-19 nightmare began.

Someday, American’s jets will be full again, and, thanks to the work of the airline’s Tulsa employees, flying safely and efficiently.

Featured video:

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.