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Airlines merger, Chesapeake layoffs mark 2013

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm •  Published: December 29, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — One of Oklahoma's largest energy companies had a turbulent year with the layoff of hundreds of employees and the forced resignation of its founder.

Chesapeake Energy announced in October that it was laying off 800 workers across the company, including 640 at its Oklahoma City headquarters. The company said that it still employed 3,500 people at its corporate headquarters and 6,000 across Oklahoma. In January, the company announced that founder Aubrey McClendon would resign on April 1 over what Chesapeake officials called "philosophical differences."

McClendon had founded the company in 1989, and he was stripped of his position as chairman of the company's board in May 2012.

Following the announcement McClendon would be leaving, several other top-level executives announced they, too, were leaving the company.

In a letter to employees announcing the layoffs, CEO Doug Lawler said the corporate restructuring process has made Chesapeake "poised to grow for decades to come."

"By scaling E&P support services, reducing management layers and aligning resources with a sharpened focus on accountability and efficiency, we have created a business built to deliver a sustainable and profitable future," Lawler said.

In Tulsa, local and state leaders were praising the merger of two airlines, which they said would add job security to thousands of workers.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said the merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways was great news for the 6,000 American Airlines employees who work at a maintenance plant in Tulsa.

"We know that the state of Oklahoma will continue to be a great place for these employees to call home, and an ever-growing hub for the aerospace and aviation industries," she said in a statement.

The deal went through and the two became known as American Airlines Group, Inc., after federal regulators settled a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department seeking to block the deal because of fears that it would hurt competition and lead to higher prices. But the two airlines promised to give up some sought-after spots at airports in New York and Washington and other areas.

The Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce and Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett also applauded the merger, calling it a positive step for job growth in the region and job security. But it remains to be seen what changes the thousands of employees in Tulsa will see or experience with the deal.

Nearby, state and local leaders announced in December that Macy's would be opening a fulfillment center in Owasso in summer 2015. The 1.3 million-square-foot facility was expected to create 1,500 full-time and part-time jobs as well as 1,000 seasonal jobs each year. The $170 million facility will handle orders placed online and in stores.

Also in December, General Electric Co. announced it had selected a site near downtown Oklahoma City for its planned $110 million global research center. The new 95,000-square-foot center will initially focus on technologies involving the production of unconventional oil and gas resources, such as shale. The research center, which is scheduled to open in 2015, will create 130 jobs.

The state's second-largest newspaper, the Tulsa World, got new owners. Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway purchased the 95,000-circulation paper in February to add to the company's growing newspaper unit.

Robert Lorton Jr., the chairman of the World Publishing Company, said at the time that selling to Berkshire would provide a secure future for the paper in Tulsa.

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