American Airlines To Hire 2,500 Pilots While Still Dealing With Contract Disputes

American Airlines has been struggling to get its act together for quite some time now, what with rows of airplane seats coming loose mid-flight, typhoid scares and continued contract disputes with its pilots. But even while the company accuses some of those pilots with staging sick-outs and hasn’t reached a deal with the pilots’ union yet, it announced this week that it’ll be adding 2,500 pilots to its payroll in the next five years.

CEO Tom Horton wrote a letter to employees announcing the news of the additional staff, who will fly new international and domestic routes, reports CNNMoney. Those new routes are more than likely a bid to attract more customers, as it risked losing passengers when it announced it would have to cut flights into the month of November.

The new routes will add flights from Dallas/Fort Worth to Seoul, South Korea and Lima, Peru; from Chicago to Dusseldorf, Germany; and from JFK airport in New York to Dublin, Ireland.

“The new American will be doing even more international flying, providing greater opportunities for career advancement and increased income for our people,” Horton wrote, adding that about 1,500 of those new hires would replace retiring pilots or fill any jobs that open up naturally. There are currently about 7,500 active pilots at American.

But the Allied Pilots Association remains skeptical about this surge in jobs.

“We once had over 13,000 pilots,” a spokesman said. “It’s been the incredible shrinking airline … unless they ink it in the contract, it doesn’t have a lot of credibility with the pilots.”

The company has been trying its best to recover from filing for bankruptcy, saying it had to make staffing cuts to reduce its costs during these difficulties. So far ground workers and flight attendants affected by the labor disputes have worked out deals with American, but no deal has been reached with its pilots as of yet.

The airline also recently announced online meal reservations for certain passengers, in yet another bid to prove to customers that all is well. To that point, adding staff is usually seen as a positive sign for a company, but American might need more than new hires and the guarantee of a so-so plane meal to convey to customers that it’s on the up-and-up and not rapidly descending.
American Airlines to hire 2,500 pilots [CNNMoney]

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