American Airlines recalls crew on voluntary leave, plans hiring – letter

By Tracy Rucinski and Sanjana Shivdas

(Reuters) -American Airlines Group Inc said on Thursday it has asked about 3,300 flight attendants on voluntary leave to return by the holiday travel season to meet rising customer demand, according to a letter to staff reviewed by Reuters.

The U.S. airline said it would also begin recruiting and hiring about 800 new flight attendants by March 2022.

“Increasing customer demand and new routes starting later this year mean we need more flight attendants to operate the airline,” the company said.

American Airlines furloughed around 8,000 flight attendants when federal aid for airline workers temporarily expired last year and thousands of others have taken voluntary leave programs meant to save costs during the pandemic.

But as travel demand has surged thanks to speedy COVID-19 vaccinations and easing restrictions, airlines have scrambled to bring back employees whose jobs may have otherwise been at risk when a third round of government aid expires in October.

U.S. airlines have received a total $54 billion to cover workers’ salaries during the coronavirus crisis. Coupled with the rebound, that money helped Delta Air Lines on Wednesday post its first quarterly profit since the pandemic.

American, which is due to report second-quarter results next Thursday, has said it could also report a small profit.

Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker has said demand remains strong in July and for the remainder of the summer, with business customers increasingly returning.

Other airlines have also announced plans to recall staff and begin hiring again, a drastic turnaround from furlough threats when the industry remained in the doldrums a year ago.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago and Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Richard Pullin)