- The echoes of the trend that started with Delta Air Lines can now be heard at other US carriers as well. Flight attendants across various US airlines are actively seeking to be paid for boarding and making this an industry norm moving ahead.
- An industry-wide change seems to be on the horizon as flight attendants at American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are asking management to follow in the footsteps of Delta and pay them for boarding.
- In a post-COVID world, where understaffed airlines are looking to rebuild the workforce and contracts are being renegotiated, the cabin crew community sees this as a window of opportunity to push for something that has been a burning topic for a while.
- Delta’s announcement has set the ball rolling and resonated immensely with the unions of other airlines pushing for such a change. The Dallas Morning News quotes Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Attendants, which represents about 24,000 American Airlines employees, as saying, The Association of Flight Attendants at Alaska Airlines has also joined in, suggesting that boarding pay will be in their opening proposal to management.
- Pilots are back in demand in the United States. But carriers cannot find enough of them, so foreign pilots are rushing to fill the empty cockpits.
- U.S. immigration lawyers report a surge in inquiries and visa applications from pilots based in countries where traffic is still recovering from pandemic lows.
- It also reflects an uneven global recovery from COVID-19. Coronavirus infections are still rising in many countries although pandemic curbs have been easing in some places. While booming travel demand is projected to help major U.S. carriers surpass their pre-pandemic revenue this quarter, airline traffic in some parts of the world remains depressed.
- “While the U.S. has a major shortage, in the rest of the world pilots are out of jobs,” said Ana Barbara Schaffert, an attorney at California-based AG Immigration Group.
- In light of strong demand, Dallas/Fort Worth-based American Airlines is aiming to employ a total of 2,000 pilots by the end of 2022. This is the highest number of pilots ever recruited in one year by the airline, the previous high being only 50% of that, at 1,000 in a year.
- This signal of progress comes as March marks the airline’s first monthly net profit since July 2021. In the initial wake of the pandemic, American Airlines lost roughly 1,000 pilots to early retirements through various buyout packages. Those buyouts were aimed at reducing payroll costs while airlines hemorrhaged cash.
- Currently, the attrition rate for pilots is much greater than the hiring rate. This is largely due to a backlog of trainees caused by mainline carriers hiring from regional carriers. It is vital for the airline to train pilots as efficiently as possible. To achieve this, the airline has addressed the need for simulators and trainers. American Airlines aims to have all aircraft flying by the end of the year.
- JetBlue Airways is at a nearly quarter-century crossroads.
The airline’s first flight took off from New York City for Fort Lauderdale in February 2000. Twenty-two years later, JetBlue executives again set their sights on South Florida with a surprise bid for Spirit Airlines. That first flight was a success, the bid was not.
- Spirit on Monday rejected JetBlue’s $3.6 billion all-cash offer and said it was sticking with a deal to merge with fellow ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines, an agreement struck in February valued at $2.9 billion. Spirit’s stock fell more than 9% on Monday after it announced it was turning down the JetBlue offer in favor of the Frontier deal, while JetBlue’s rose more than 2%.
- Miramar, Florida-based Spirit cited regulatory concerns in turning down the offer, saying it doubted a JetBlue acquisition would get approved, in part because of JetBlue’s Northeast partnership with American Airlines, which the Justice Department sued to block last year. The DOJ argued in its suit that it would drive up fares and hurt competition, specifically mentioning the importance of smaller carriers like JetBlue.
- JetBlue said it would divest Spirit assets in New York, Boston and some in Florida under a revised offer. The discount carrier still said no. Spirit CEO Ted Christie said during the airline’s first-quarter call Thursday that he has “wondered whether blocking our deal with Frontier is, in fact, their goal.”
- Spirit’s rejection leaves JetBlue Airways at a turning point. Nearly 24 years after it was incorporated, JetBlue has grown from a quirky leisure airline based in New York City with one class of service into the sixth-largest airline in the U.S. with more than 100 destinations from Los Angeles to Lima, Peru.