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Over 20,000 people want to become an American Airlines flight attendant

Nov 16, 2012 12:08 pm

Skift Take

The massive amount of applicants likely points more to the state of the economy than the allure of working for a still-bankrupt airline.

— Samantha Shankman

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Simon Clancy  / Flickr.com

An American Airlines flight pushes back from the gate at Los Angeles International Airport. Simon Clancy / Flickr.com


FORT WORTH — Despite the uncertainty of bankruptcy, thousands of people want to serve soft drinks at 30,000 feet and get free travel benefits from American Airlines.

The Fort Worth-based carrier said it had an “overwhelming” response to its job posting for flight attendants, with more than 20,000 people applying for positions in a week.

American opened the application process Nov. 5 and closed it Tuesday when it thought it had more than enough applicants for 1,500 new flight attendant positions.

“We’re thrilled with the overwhelming response to our regular flight attendant job postings, and believe we now have enough qualified candidates to consider for these openings,” American spokeswoman Missy Cousino said. “In the meantime, job postings for several language speakers, including Korean, Mandarin, Finnish and Japanese, will remain open.”

American announced plans to hire 1,500 new flight attendants in a year after more than 2,200 took a voluntary buyout that included a $40,000 severance payment as part of a new cost-cutting union contract. American needs new crew members for adequate staffing.

It’s the first time American has hired new flight attendants in over a decade. Applicants are going through a pre-screening that includes an online personality assessment and an automated phone interview. In-person interviews will take place in December in Dallas-Fort Worth with jobs offered later that month. The first new hires will begin training in January and will join flight crews in April.

As part of the new contract with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, flight attendants will be trained to work on both domestic and international routes. Next year, they will also be trained on the Boeing 777-300 and Airbus aircraft that will enter American’s fleet.

American has 16,000 flight attendants, at an average age of 51, according to the union. Their average annual salary is $45,000, American has said, which is higher than the national average of $37,740 for flight attendants in 2010, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In another development, AMR Chief Executive Tom Horton reportedly told creditors Wednesday that they should get most of the stock in the new American Airlines if it merges with US Airways.

Sources told The Associated Press that Horton made the comments during a meeting with the unsecured creditors committee. Horton also said that the costs of a combined airline are hard to gauge because of labor uncertainty at US Airways and that such uncertainty should be reason to give AMR creditors more equity as compensation for the risks related to combining the workforces.

US Airways executives presented its plan for a merged airline to the unsecured creditors Tuesday, American executives discussed their idea for a stand-alone carrier with creditors Wednesday. The two airlines have been sharing information about a merger since signing a nondisclosure agreement.

On Thursday, the Communications Workers of America union ran newspaper ads in Washington, D.C., and Dallas declaring there should be “no more delays” in allowing a union representation vote for American’s passenger service agents.

The union has been fighting American to allow federal mediators to hold a union vote for about 10,000 passenger service agents. After the National Mediation Board first approved the union’s application and scheduled a vote this spring, American filed several legal challenges to stop the vote.

“Flights aren’t all that American Airlines delays,” the ad says, reiterating that congressional lawmakers have called on American to allow the vote.

Recently, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that American’s challenge should be thrown out by a lower court. American is seeking a stay while it appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.

American says the union did not collect authorization cards from 50 percent of workers, as required by a law enacted in February. The mediation board say the previous 35 percent standard should be used since the application for an election was filed in December 2011.

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

(c)2012 Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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