Home News Local news AA TO CONTRACT OUT ST. CROIX GROUND SERVICES

AA TO CONTRACT OUT ST. CROIX GROUND SERVICES

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March 12, 2003 – The first sign that the increased landing fees enacted by the V.I. Port Authority Feb. 1 are having a detrimental impact on the aviation industry here showed up Wednesday when American Airlines announced it will shut down its St. Croix ground operations as of April 15.
Minette Velez, director of American's corporate communications in San Juan, said Wednesday that American will give up its counter space and offices on St. Croix, lay off all its full-time employees, including long-time general manager Lowell Dyer and contract out the servicing of its daily Miami-St. Croix round trip jet flight to American Eagle.
The action means the American employees, some of which have been working for the company more than 20 years, could be forced to the unemployment lines. The employees were notified of the changes in a letter this week.
However, Velez said the employees will each be offered other "employment options on an individual basis." Those options would most likely involve relocation.
Velez said it was no longer viable for America to maintain its service operations on St. Croix when Eagle's agents were available to service the single jet flight into St. Croix.
"As you know the company has been facing a financial crisis and is looking to lower its operational costs," Velez said, adding, "In addition we have increased landing fees, " which came at a time that the company could ill afford them.
Rumors that American was seeking bankruptcy financing circulated in the media this week and the New York Times reported Wednesday that AMR, American's parent company, has been removed from Standard and Poor's 500 index as the company's stock price and market value continue to plummet.
However, even before that the airline made it clear that if the V.I. Port Authority stood by its decision to increase landing fees, it would be forced to cut service. The Port Authority did not back down.
Velez said the decision to shut down the ground operations and "out source" them to American Eagle was the only viable alternative. It was done, she said, instead of cutting the flight altogether
Velez also reiterated that the daily "seasonal flights" from Boston and JFK to St. Thomas "are not going to be extended," beyond the end of season and are, at this point, unlikely to be resumed next season.
"We're evaluating," the outlook for next year, but said she "wouldn't anticipate" the return of those flights.
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