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American Airlines Plans to Hire 18,000 Workers Next Year 


American Airlines ticket counter. | Image from hapabapa

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American Airlines, based in DFW, intends to hire 18,000 new employees in 2022 to expand its staff. This estimate stems from CEO Doug Parker’s testimony to lawmakers in a hearing last Wednesday.

Parker gave the testimony before the US Senate Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on December 15.

The hearing was held as an inquiry by lawmakers into why airlines are experiencing labor shortages after receiving upwards of $54 billion in federal funding from the Payroll Support Program (PSP).

The federal stimulus was given to airlines including American, Southwest, and United to prevent job losses. The CEOs of each company, Doug Parker, Gary Kelly, and Scott Kirby, respectively, testified how their companies used the PSP for its intended purpose.

The government support “saved the airline industry,” according to Parker’s testimony. “Each time we add to our ranks, it’s like a dividend payment on the investment made in our team through the PSP,” he added. “We’re growing to provide more promising careers in good-paying jobs to hard-working individuals who are the lifeblood of our nation’s economy.”

American Airlines remains the largest airline in the world in number of flights, even after the losses suffered due to COVID. The carrier employs 121,200 workers nationwide, and approximately 30,000 are based in DFW. This airline alone received over $12.8 billion from government funding.

American and other airlines have blamed the major breakdowns they have experienced on being understaffed. In October, one such meltdown delayed hundreds of flights and stranded thousands of passengers due to cancellations.

In response to these disruptions (and likely to lawmakers’ insinuation that their federal funding did not go to good use), American Airlines has told its employees this month that it plans to hire thousands next year, including 2,100 pilots.

The carrier has already hired 16,000 employees so far this year, including 1,350 pilots, around 1,600 flight attendants, and 2,000 reservation agents.

American Airlines furloughed a combined 17,000 employees from the workforce in late 2020. American and Southwest encouraged their workers to take early retirement packages and buyouts to trim expenses. Thousands were persuaded to do so, and many others took voluntary leaves of absence.

With a lack of employees in its forces and a larger-than-expected spike in demand for flights (that outpaced the predictions of any historical models, according to Nicholas Calio, CEO of Airlines for America), American Airlines workers have encountered less-than-desirable conditions.

Without sufficient numbers of pilots, flight attendants, and other workers to keep operations running smoothly, the airlines have had high cancellation rates due to pilots or flight attendants being out of hours or out of place.

Complaints have arisen from staff about lack of rest and trouble finding lodging or transportation. They have also stated that disruptive passenger behavior makes their jobs more difficult.

After receiving complaints about worker conditions from union leaders, American has said it will reduce flying schedules in the fall.

As a result, the industry has been propelled into its most intense hiring phase in decades. American Airlines has continued to increase its approximations of how many new employees it will need to meet demand. For instance, in April of this year, the carrier estimated a necessity of 900 new pilots, a number that has since risen to 2,100.

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