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American Airlines breaks ground on Robert W. Baker Integrated Operations Center

DSC_0961FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines officially broke ground on the Robert W. Baker Integrated Operations Center(IOC) in Fort Worth on July 8. Earlier this year, American announced plans to consolidate the current American Airlines operations center in Fort Worth and the current US Airways operations center in Pittsburgh.

“Think of the IOC as the 24/7 nerve center of an airline that has a global reach,” Chuck Allen, Managing Director of Government Affairs for American Airlines said. “The IOC coordinates the day-to-day, minute-by-minute operation of the airline. The specific functions of the new IOC include Flight Dispatch, Crew Scheduling, Maintenance Operations Control, Weight and Balance Planning, System Customer Service, Flight Planning Support and Emergency Planning and Response; and of course staff and leadership to support all of these team members. It is safe to say lights will always be on at the new IOC.

“This new facility is expected to be completed by Midsummer of 2015. It will house over 1,400 employees. Every 30 seconds an American Airlines flight is taking to the skies somewhere in this world and this center will be coordinating that. It will be 149,000-square-feet of hardened space. It will be designed to withstand an EF3 tornado that has winds gusting somewhere between 165 and 185 mph. This be the first building constructed on the American Airlines Flight Academy campus in more than 20 years.”

The new facility will be located near American’s headquarters and Flight Academy south of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The state-of-the-art IOC will serve as the nerve center of American’s global network and will house employees who plan, oversee and dispatch the airline’s more than one million annual mainline flights.

We’re here to break ground on our new state-of-the-art Integrated Operations Center,” said Doug Parker, American’s chairman and CEO. “Once built, it will house the operation control teams of our combined airline. The work that will be conducted here is at the heart of what American Airlines is all about: operating airplanes reliably around the world so that our customers can get to where the going safely and on time.

“Since the day we closed our merger, we set about to restore American to its rightful position as the greatest airline in the world. We view running in airline as a noble profession. Some of the most important work we do happens within our operations center. These airliner customers want to fly. We have to operate safely and reliably to provide this service to more than 190 million customers a year who rely on American. Our employees must have the best tools in the most up-to-date information. Our new operations center will provide all that and more.

“It is most fitting that this new, state-of-the-art facility will bear the name of one of the most respected leaders in American’s history. Bob Baker was widely regarded for his commitment to safety, reliability and operational integrity. He is a great example for all of us at American and we are honored to have his name on this extremely important facility,” he said.

The late Robert W. Baker was American’s former vice chairman who retired in 2002 after a 35-year career with the company. During his career, Baker held a variety of positions in Marketing, Freight Marketing, Field Services, Information Services and Operations. In 1985, Baker took responsibility for the airline’s Flight Operations, Airport Services and Maintenance and Engineering during a period of rapid growth for American. He became executive vice president of operations in 1989 and vice chairman in 2000. Baker was widely regarded throughout the industry for his commitment to safe and reliable airline operations.

During the ceremony, Robert Baker, Jr., had the opportunity to say a few words about his father’s love for American Airlines.
“We have spent our lives as part of the airline industry,” Baker said. “Our grandfather spent 40 years with American, dad 35 (years.) So until dad retired in 2002, in the entire history of the airline, there wasn’t a time that we did not have a Baker running the helm or helping out in some form
or fashion. That was pretty special.

“He believed in the airline, its purpose, its management, but especially the people and employees. In the end tickets are going to be purchased, planes will fly, people will travel, we just hope that dad’s name on the IOC inspires employees for years to come.”

Mayor Betsy Price congratulated American Airlines on selecting Ft. Worth as the home of its new IOC. She also pledged to help convert transplanted Steeler fans to Cowboys fans.

“DFW is an economic engine that really does drive this region,” Price said. “So many jobs, and so much of what we do, and about 80 percent of our business for DFW is American Airlines. You guys have emerged a stronger better partner for Fort Worth and for all of North Texas.

“The Integrated Operations Center brings great jobs. I was told the average salary on these entry-level jobs that will be coming in is $60,000 and up. That’s a great starting level.

“The city did grant a nice abatement, $6.5 million, but it’s an $88 million investment for us that continues to give. It’s an investment in the future for American and indeed an investment for the city of Fort Worth,” Price said.

“The facility is a great investment in the community,” Christopher Poinsatte, Chief Financial Officer for DFW Airport said. “It’s great for Fort Worth in the region. It’s clear with the new management team that American is very committed to grow here at DFW airport.”

Lillie Biggins, Chair of the DFW Airport Board, attended the ceremony to show her support for American Airlines’ decision to build the IOC close to the airport.