American acquired TWA in 2001 for $4.2B, a deal that included the TWA hub in St. Louis (STL) as well as the many MD-80s owned by TWA (remember McDonnell Douglas was based in STL prior to the Boeing merger). Since then, American closed the hub in 2003 and reduced daily flights from 417 to just 41 on weekdays (of which only 19 are mainline).
Sadly, today American announced that they will be closing the St. Louis pilot base in September 2018. The move will impact 180 pilots, but not impact the STL schedule. No changes to flight attendant or line maintenance bases are expected. The airline says that as the MD-80s are retired and replaced with 737-800s, the pilot base no longer made sense. American currently has 46 MD-80s which will drop to 26 by next September.
Kimball Stone, American’s vice president of flight said the change will “improve aircraft utilization and simplify hub operations, continue to earn the loyalty of our customers and enhance career opportunities for our team members.”
“While this decision has been in discussion for a while, it’s obviously not the news our STL pilots want to hear. But I believe it is important to share this as soon as possible so everyone affected by this announcement, including our STL Flight Office staff, can begin talking about options and the decisions ahead. A sufficient number of positions exist in other crew bases and, of course, transfers will take place according to the joint collective bargaining agreement.”
STL responded as well:
“The pilot base will be eliminated here but we’re assured the rest of American’s operations at St. Louis Lambert International Airport will not be impacted, including its maintenance operations and flight schedule.”