America West plans to close its reservation center in Md. early next year

September 07, 1991|By Ted Shelsby h

Phoenix-based America West announced Thursday that it plans to close its 300-job reservation center in Hanover in January or February.

The decision to close the 2-year-old reservation center is part of a cost-saving move. The airline plans to open a new center in Kansas City, Mo., in early 1992.

Marylou Baker, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development (DEED), said the State Aviation Administration is contacting "about six or seven other carriers, including Northwest Airlines, to see if they are interested in coming in" to take over the America West center.

Ms. Baker said it was too soon to speculate on the results of these efforts.

In the meantime, she said, a DEED rapid response team will meet with the America West employees Monday to assist in career counseling and to determine if a retraining program is needed to help the airline workers find new jobs.

Michael J. Conway, president of the financially troubled carrier, said in a prepared statement that the company will offer its Baltimore reservations personnel the opportunity to relocate to the new Kansas City facility.

But Ms. Baker indicated it might be unfeasible for many of the workers here to relocate to the Midwest.

America West has two daily flights from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Phoenix. It also has a daily flight (with the exception of Saturday) to Las Vegas.

The company said yesterday it will continue its flights from Baltimore.

Mr. Conway's statement also said: "The decision to make this move is strictly a result of the financial advantages it provides America West. We anticipate that this move will result in an annual savings of nearly $1 million in facility lease, equipment and telecommunication expenses."

In June, America West filed for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Act as it sought to reorganize its business.

Michael Mitchell, a spokesman for the airline, said yesterday that the court recently approved a $155 million refinancing package that is expected to help the carrier cope with the difficult times in the industry.

Mr. Mitchell said the carrier also has arranged a joint marketing alliance with Northwest Airlines to share airport operations and guide passengers to each other's airlines.

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