American Airlines has signed a new long-term lease for its aircraft maintenance base at Pittsburgh International Airport – reaffirming the airline’s commitment to performing aircraft maintenance in the region.
On Friday, the agreement was formally approved by the Allegheny County Airport Authority’s Board of Directors. American will extend its lease of nearly 330,000 square feet of space at PIT for an additional five years. The rate of the lease will remain unchanged versus the prior agreement.
The new lease also keeps jobs in the Pittsburgh region. Approximately 500 workers are based at American’s PIT maintenance facility.
“Our experienced team of Aviation Maintenance Technicians at PIT is among the best in the business, and works around the clock across our Base and Line Maintenance facilities to ensure American’s fleet remains operational.” said John Falbo, Senior Manager of PIT Base Maintenance for American Airlines. “As the industry continues to recover from the pandemic, our PIT team plays an invaluable role caring for our aircraft and delivering a reliable travel experience for our customers.”
A holdover from the former US Airways hub, American has kept its maintenance base at Pittsburgh since the merger between both airlines, which was finalized in 2015. This is the second time American has extended its lease at PIT since the two carriers combined.
Currently, American uses Hangars 3, 4 and 5 at the airport, each used for varying levels of aircraft maintenance.
Hangar 5 is used for heavy maintenance – the most rigorous check airplanes undergo during their service life.
Heavy maintenance is carried out every 6-10 years, depending on the aircraft. Technicians take apart each airplane to check for potential damage or corrosion occurring over time. In addition, airlines will sometimes upgrade their cabins during this maintenance period. Normally, heavy checks take approximately four to six weeks to complete.
PIT is only one of a handful of airports in the U.S. that American utilizes for heavy maintenance. The others are Tulsa International Airport, as well as its hubs at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.
“American Airlines is a great partner. This base continues to be a win for our region, supporting 500 jobs,” said Eric Sprys, Allegheny County Airport Authority Executive Vice President and CFO. “We’re really happy to extend the lease and look forward to continuing to partner with American.”
At PIT, American performs maintenance on its Airbus narrowbody fleet, which includes the A319, A320 and A321. The airline also does work on its new Airbus A321neo aircraft at Pittsburgh – the aircraft is one of the main types American is taking delivery of as it modernizes its fleet. Currently, American operates 36 A321neo planes with 34 more on order, as of July 2021.
In total, American operates a fleet of over 430 Airbus aircraft. It is the largest operator of the A320 family worldwide.