- American Airlines has told flight attendants on extended leave that it wants them back, per a memo.
- The airline also plans to hire 800 new flight attendants before March 2022 as travel rebounds.
- It furloughed more than 8,000 cabin crew members in October 2020 as travel demand slumped.
American Airlines is canceling extended voluntary leave for about 3,300 of its flight attendants as it prepares for a surge in travel demand, which will last beyond the summer.
Returning cabin crews will restart flights in November and December, and two-thirds will need to be retrained, the airline told employees in a Thursday memo, which was viewed by CNBC.
American also plans to hire 800 new flight attendants before March 2022, the memo said, per CNBC.
“Increasing customer demand and new routes starting later this year mean we need more flight attendants to operate the airline,” Brady Byrnes, American Airlines’ vice president of flight service, said in the memo, per CNBC.
Staff were offered voluntary leave during the pandemic as demand for travel plummeted and the airline suffered a record $8.9 billion annual loss for 2020.
The airline furloughed 8,099 flight attendants and 1,600 pilots last October due to a slump in customer demand, WPLG reported. That same month, a flight attendant for American posted a viral TikTok video of her emotional farewell speech on her last flight before taking leave.
Demand for travel has begun surging in recent months: American said it flew three times as many passengers — 2.7 million — over the July 4 weekend for the same period last year in a memo shared by CNN on Twitter.
Airports welcomed almost 2.2 million air passengers on July 11, up from 754,545 for the same day in 2020, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration.
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But rates of passenger violence against cabin crews have rocketed as travel has bounced back. The Federal Aviation Administration has so far reported more than 3,400 incidents of unruly passenger behavior in 2021, and initiated 555 investigations into such incidents — compared with 146 in 2019 before the pandemic.
American canceled hundreds of flights in June due to a shortage of staff and maintenance issues. It said it might continue to cancel at least 50 to 80 flights a day in July, the airline told ABC News.
American did not immediately respond to Insider for comment.
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