- Fort Worth-based American Airlines told employees Wednesday that it hopes to bring on 350 more new pilots this year, adding 50 new employees to its plan to hire 300 by the end of 2021. And in 2022, the company plans to hire 1,000 aviators, increasing from its previous projection to add 600 pilots.
- “Though we were limited in pilot growth this past year, we are now moving full speed ahead with plans to continue recruiting, hiring and training the best and most diverse pilots in the business,” American’s vice president of flight Chip Long said in an email to employees Wednesday.
- As of 2019, the average American Airlines pilot made $238,000 in salary and benefits, according to the MIT Airline Data Project.
- Airlines across the country are now scrambling to find pilots after major cutbacks since the beginning of 2021. American Airlines lost about 1,000 pilots to early retirements through various buyout packages over the last year and a half. Those buyouts were aimed at reducing payroll costs while airlines hemorrhaged cash. But now that demand is recovering, airlines need pilots to ferry a growing number of passengers.
- Southwest said it made money in June even without the federal aid. CEO Gary Kelly said the recent quarter “marked an important milestone in the pandemic recovery as leisure travel demand surged.”
- Both carriers reported revenue far above 2020 levels. That reflects the rising number of people taking flights in the U.S. — now about 2 million a day, or about 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Domestic leisure travel is roughly back to normal, but business and international travelers are still mostly absent.
- American Airlines eked out a second-quarter profit of $19 million, including nearly $1.5 billion in federal relief. Without the taxpayer funding and other special items, American would have lost $1.1 billion, or $1.69 per share. Still, that is American’s smallest adjusted loss in any quarter since 2019, and the adjusted loss was less than the $2.03 per share loss forecast by analysts, according to a FactSet survey.
- Southwest reported a profit of $348 million, reversing last year’s loss of $915 million in the same three-month stretch. Excluding federal relief and other special items, the Dallas-based airline would have lost 35 cents per share — more than analysts’ prediction of 21 cents per share in losses.
- Delta Air Lines said it expects to hire between 4,000 and 5,000 new employees this year. American Airlines announced it will bring on 1,350 pilots through next year — 450 more than previously expected. Southwest Airlines said employees on voluntary leave would be recalled by the end of the year.
- “Today, with the robust demand trends that we see in our return to profitability, we don’t just see the light at the end of the tunnel, we’re exiting the tunnel,” United Airlines Chief Executive Scott Kirby said in a call with analysts this week.
- Several domestic airlines reported earnings in recent days, with executives noting the need for more workers to handle rising passenger counts. Increasing coronavirus caseloads across much of the country have done little to dampen enthusiasm for travel with more than 2.2 million people passing through airport security checkpoints Sunday — the most since pandemic began.
- The recovery is largely being fueled by leisure trips, but also by an earlier-than-expected return of business travelers, executives said. Analysts have predicted that the lucrative business travel market would not come back to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 or 2024.
- “Some of our largest corporate accounts have already lifted all travel restrictions and many have already returned to the office,” said Doug Parker, chief executive of American Airlines, adding that he expects business travel to fully recover next year.
- Gary Kelly, chief executive of Southwest Airlines, said Thursday the air carrier is eyeing the rising spread of the delta variant, but these days is better positioned to handle a possible downturn.
- The bumpy restart has drawn the attention of lawmakers in both parties. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) sent a letter to executives of six domestic air carriers last week inquiring about their difficulties in boosting staffing levels when they received billions of dollars in federal government support to keep workers on the job.
- “The federal support was critical to keeping our industry afloat and keeping our employees employed and being in position for the recovery,” Bastian said last week. “As we’ve talked on this call, one of the biggest challenges we’re having now is getting everything fully stood up even though we’ve kept a lot of our employees.”
- SkyWest Airlines was operating Flight 5332 on behalf of United Express, the regional brand for United Airlines, on July 17. Tracking data from Flightradar24 showed the aircraft making a series of turns and flying in a holding pattern before heading to Hayden by way of Nebraska and Wyoming.
- Jessica Taylor, the flight’s captain, described the ordeal on social media.
“This has been a challenging week of flying,” Taylor wrote. “After flying 8+ hours from Den-Rdu-Den (well Hayden after diverting) my crew and had to sleep on the airplane overnight …. Yes that’s right we slept on the floor of the airplane in Hayden.”
- SkyWest didn’t confirm Taylor’s account but told Insider that hotel accommodations had not been available in Hayden.
- “Though we worked to make arrangements to get our customers to their destinations that evening, unfortunately the nearby area did not have hotel accommodations available under the circumstances,” SkyWest said in a statement to Insider. “We, along with our partners at United, apologized and United has reached out to customers to provide compensation for the inconvenience.”
- Taylor said it was the first time she had been forced to spend the night on a plane because of a lack of accommodations.
- “This is a first for me in 15+ years of professionally flying,” Taylor wrote. “I personally never thought I’d find myself sleeping on the floor of a plane as 38 year old airline captain.”