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American Airlines to Resume Hiring Pilots This Fall as Travel Demand Recovers

Marco Bello | Reuters
  • American is joining United, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines in plans to resume pilot hiring this year.
  • The carrier will start with adding 300 pilots by the end of the year and double that in 2022, according to a company memo.

American Airlines plans to resume hiring pilots this fall, the carrier told aviators on Tuesday, as a rebound in demand prompts airlines to rethinking their future staffing.

The coronvirus pandemic derailed airline hiring plans in March of last year as carriers scrambled to reduce their head counts to cut costs when travel demand plunged. American last week said it plans to fly more than 90% of its 2019 domestic schedule this summer.

Bookings have since recovered, led by vacationers flying within the U.S., airlines have recently reported.

United Airlines also plans to restart pilot hiring next month, while low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines began training for new pilots in March. JetBlue Airways has also made plans to start hiring pilots later this year.

American plans to start by hiring 300 new pilots by the end of the year and plans to double that number in 2022, Chip Long, American's vice president of flight operations, wrote in a staff note, which was viewed by CNBC.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier has about 15,000 pilots though hundreds have taken early retirement or are scheduled to stop flying in the coming years as they turn 65, the federally mandated retirement age for airline pilots.

Business and long-haul international demand remains weak as travel restrictions persist and large network carriers continue to lose money. United reported a $1.4 billion first-quarter loss on Monday while Delta Air Lines last week said it lost close to $1.2 billion in the first three months of the year.

American will detail its demand and hiring outlook when it reports quarterly results on Thursday before the market opens.

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