Pittsburgh has landed US Airways’ planned $25 million flight operations control center, which will result in the transfer of about 150 Valley jobs to Pennsylvania.
The new nerve center for managing and tracking US Airways’ 1,400 daily flights is pegged to house 600 employees in a 60,000-square foot facility on 10-acre campus. Completion is scheduled for early 2009.
The hometown airline, which also had been courted by Phoenix and Charlotte, N.C. with all three cities offering tens of millions of dollars of incentives to “pick me,” said Wednesday that the steel town gets the nod.
Pittsburgh currently houses the operations center for US Airways and its 450 employees, while America West flights are managed from a facility at 24th Street and Baseline Road in Phoenix with 150 workers.
The two airlines merged in fall 2005 and announced plans a year later to consolidate their operations into a single flight center, asking interested cities to propose options.
Charlotte, US Airways largest hub before it was bought by America West, also had a stake in wooing new jobs and threw its hat into the ring.
The Tempe-based carrier would not say exactly why it opted for Pittsburgh and wouldn’t divulge details of its analysis of the bids.
“We gave careful consideration to proposals from Phoenix, Charlotte and Pittsburgh, and all three cities gave compelling reasons to consider those proposals,” US Airways president Scott Kirby said in a statement. “However, we chose Pittsburgh for a variety of reasons, including the impact of relocating experienced employees from the Pittsburgh area and the amount of value created for US Airways in the Pittsburgh proposal. We were particularly impressed with the outstanding commitment of, and cooperation between, city, county and state officials to this project.”
A planned $2.9 billion expansion of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport that will boost costs for airlines did not play a part in the decision, said US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder. The airport proposal was just approved by Phoenix City Council Tuesday.
Phoenix fought for the new operations center by offering the airline super deals on land leases, tax breaks, low interest loans, job training programs and pretty much everything the city and state were allowed to throw into the pot, said Da- vid Kreitor, deputy city manager.
“We didn’t hold anything back,” Kreitor said.
It’s difficult to stick a price tag on the Phoenix package, he said.
Some have valued the incentives at more than $30 million over a couple of decades, and Pittsburgh’s offer was worth only about half that.
“We’re very disappointed,” Kreitor said of US Airways decision, but he’s not worried the carrier will move any other administrative operations to the East. And he said Phoenix will help find jobs for any workers who don’t want to leave the Valley for the icy Pennsylvania environs. “Those people are going to be cold,” he said of those who decide to follow their jobs to Pittsburgh.
Most of the 150 employees who work in the Valley ops center will get offers to relocate to Pennsylvania, Wunder said. Overall, US Airways employs about 10,729 Valley workers, about 75 percent of them based at Sky Harbor or airport campus facilities.