Trans World Airlines is set to phase out 400 jobs in Los Angeles when it closes its only reservations center on the West Coast in June, the company said Thursday.
Airline spokeswoman Julia Bishop said the glass-and-concrete building, which dates to the 1960s and is just west of downtown, was too old and cost-prohibitive for the company's ambitious remodeling and upgrading efforts underway at its three other reservations centers in St. Louis, Chicago and Norfolk, Va.
"'We don't need an extra reservations center," Bishop said. "The other three we have will meet our needs."
Employees affected by the June 15 closure will be offered jobs within TWA, primarily at the company's remaining reservations facilities.
Workers were not available to comment Thursday and security guards kept a sharp watch on all strangers milling around the gated facility on the eastern fringe of the Westlake district near MacArthur Park.
Those unwilling to relocate will not be guaranteed replacement jobs in Los Angeles, Bishop said. "If there's a job opening available in Los Angeles and the employee is qualified for it, they're welcome to apply for it."
Those who don't accept a transfer will be given a severance package or "furlough" pay, Bishop said, and will be offered free job counseling services.
The amount of the severance packages will depend on each employee's position and seniority. Figures on TWA's total work force in Southern California were not immediately available Thursday.
"Basically, it's going to save us money to close it," Bishop said from TWA's St. Louis headquarters. "The building is completely in need of remodeling."
The three-story facility at 1543 Shatto St. has been home to a fourth of TWA's nationwide telephone reservations system since 1972.
The company has reservations facilities in Norfolk and Chicago and plans to overhaul the St. Louis facility later this year.
"During 1999, TWA must make significant reductions in unnecessary overhead expense, particularly in the area of excess facilities," Gerald Gitner, TWA chairman and chief executive, said in a prepared statement. "Consolidating our reservations function into three offices is a significant step in the process."
Gerald Whitehead of Morgan Adams Inc., which leases the building to TWA, said his company has not been formally notified of the airline's decision.
As part of its improvement efforts, Bishop said, the company is installing a new computer system that will shorten the time operators need to make bookings.