Skift Take

Amidst contract negotiations, restructuring, and flight attendants' new retirement option, American is dealing with many moving parts and wants to make sure that, at the very least, its flights will run fully staffed -- even if that means turning the clock back a decade.

American Airlines will recall 211 flight attendants this fall as the airline prepares for other employees to take voluntary buyouts negotiated in a new contract, the carrier said Wednesday

The flight attendants being recalled are the last group on the furlough list, said the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. Once they are recalled, they are likely to be based in New York, Washington, D.C., Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami. It’s expected they would begin flying again in mid-November.

“We regularly evaluate our staffing needs, and because we anticipate a large number of flight attendants will elect to participate in the Voluntary Early Out Program, we are taking this proactive step to ensure we remain adequately staffed throughout this process,” said American spokesman Bruce Hicks.

As part of their newly ratified contract, there is no limit on the number of flight attendants who can accept the buyout program.

The union said the recall is due partly to high sick list numbers and will fill international slots that may be open as flight attendants opt to retire early.

“We welcome our flight attendants back to service and recognize they play an integral role in providing an outstanding onboard experience for our customers,” Hicks said.

Separately, the Allied Pilots Association filed an appeal of the judge’s Aug. 15 ruling on American’s request to reject its labor contract with the pilots. The judge ruled that American did meet the standards set by the bankruptcy court to reject its contracts. However, two of American’s proposals — its furlough policy and expanding domestic codesharing — were overreaching.

American has re-filed its request to have the contract terminated and a hearing is set for Tuesday.

In another bankruptcy filing made Wednesday, the carrier said a group of creditors wants to provide financing for AMR Corp to help facilitate its restructuring.

“The group has expressed an interest in participating in the formulation of a plan of reorganization and, in connection therewith, potentially providing for equity and other financings, if any, that may be required to support American’s business plan and the consummation of a Chapter 11 plan or plans,” the filing said.

The creditor group was formed in April, according to the filing, and includes J.P. Morgan Securities, King Street Capital and York Capital Management Global Advisors.

AMR, the parent company of American Airlines, has until the end of the year to file its reorganization plan with the bankruptcy court. After that, AMR’s exclusivity period expires and other creditors or third-party firms, like US Airways which wants to merge with AMR, may offer competing plans.

“It is not at all unusual for large debt holders to express an interest in participating in the formulation of a plan of reorganization and to potentially provide equity or other financing as part of a plan,” said American spokesman Sean Collins. “These debt holders have a direct interest in ensuring that AMR emerges as a healthy company. It also is not uncommon for the debtor to pay fees related to this effort.”

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


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Tags: american airlines, flight attendants, labor

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