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Airlines could soon have trouble finding qualified pilots as a large portion of the workforce reaches retirement age and new federal rules mandate longer rests. American is particularly prone to a shortage as several employees left with severance payments last year.
American Airlines says it will hire 1,500 new pilots over the next five years and offer jobs to the remaining pilots who are still furloughed.
American said Monday that it would begin posting the new jobs this week and hire 45 to 50 pilots per month through next summer. It has already started hiring 1,500 flight attendants.
Parent AMR Corp. is trying to merge with US Airways Group Inc. and exit from bankruptcy protection. The merger is being held up by an antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. A trial is set to begin Nov. 25.
AMR CEO Tom Horton said in a letter to employees that the company was preparing for the trial but would “remain open to discussions with the Justice Department regarding a settlement on appropriate terms.”
Airlines have resumed hiring pilots in part because a large number are hitting a new mandatory retirement age of 65; it was raised from age 60 a little over five years ago. Also, new federal rules on crew rest could create the need for more pilots. American is hiring flight attendants partly to replace employees who took severance payments to leave last year.
Also Monday, AMR said in a filing with the bankruptcy court that it earned $71 million in August, a reversal from a loss of $82 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 7 percent to $2.34 billion.
Horton said that AMR could make a profit-sharing payment to employees next March — it would be the first in several years.
“We are building a strong, competitive and profitable new American which will create more opportunity for our people,” he said.
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