AAR offers workers option to transfer temporarily

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Illinois-based AAR Corp. is giving its aircraft mechanics the option to transfer to two other AAR facilities until the company

finds more work to bring to Lake Charles.

“We’re waiting for that one big customer,” Danny Martinez, AAR vice president of technical services, told the American Press on Monday.

The workers will be temporarily transferred to other AAR facilities for 30 days, Martinez said.

“I have a gap in time before that first customer — if we can nail it — becomes available, which will be at the end of the

month,” he said. “We’re committed to Lake Charles and we want to hang on to our employees, so an option was to, for those

that are able, allow them to go and work in (Indiana or Minnesota).”

About 80 mechanics are employed at AAR

in Lake Charles. When Aeroframe’s lease with Chennault International

Airport was terminated

in August of 2013 and turned over to AAR, the new partnership was

estimated to support a 750-job aircraft maintenance, repair

and overhaul operation.

“We have a ways to go to get to the 750,” he said. “That’s part of what we’re doing. We know we’re going to hit here sooner

or later, but we have to also offset our costs.”

In order to solidify AAR’s presence at

Chennault, the state offered AAR an incentive package that included a $2

million performance-based

grant. In October 2013, AAR was given a 10-year tax exemption from

the Calcasieu Parish School Board — a request that was

denied to Aeroframe in May, three months before the company ceased

operations and couldn’t pay its workers for their last

two weeks of work.

“The unique thing about what we walked into here was that the facility was operating when we took over the lease,” he said.

He said employees were hired to finish the aircraft in anticipation for a new customer.

For the mechanics who opt not to transfer to another facility, they will remain in Lake Charles and receive more training.