WASHINGTON — American Airlines announced in a memo on Tuesday that all of the pilots that were "recalled" during the COVID-19 pandemic will be returning to work.
The company said it plans to also resume hiring pilots this fall with about 300 new hires expected by the end of the year and another 300 by the end of 2022. American Airlines credits its strong spring season after the coronavirus upended travel plans across the globe.
In October 2020, American Airlines cut more than 40,000 jobs, including 19,000 through furloughs and layoffs. On top of that, it said about 23,500 employees accepted buyouts, retired early or took long-term leaves of absence. Its layoff announcement came one day after Delta Air Lines said it would furlough 1,941 pilots in October unless it reached a cost-cutting deal with the pilots’ union.
"This positive news for our pilots and our airline represents a change in course; a change that is exciting on many levels and not only for those pilots returning to the airline or those that will soon be joining us," the American Airlines memo read. "Recruiting, hiring and training a diverse group of professional aviators is our continued goal and will play an essential part in ensuring the success of our airline for years to come."
American Airlines added in its memo that "Conditional Job Offers" that were offered to individuals before the pandemic, will still be honored. It said its pilot recruitment team will be in touch.
Airlines across the U.S. are adding flights for the summer vacation season in the expectation that passengers will show up. American Airlines said last week that it expects to run about 90% of its U.S. pre-pandemic schedule this summer.
Back in March, American Airlines told 13,000 workers who were given layoff warning notices in February to "tear them up" after Congress passed the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. The American Rescue Plan included funding to support payrolls.
“The full recovery is going to come sooner for the leisure airlines and later for long-haul international and business” airlines like Delta, American and United, said Peter McNally, an analyst for research firm Third Bridge.
Not only are travelers and pilots returning to American Airlines, but the company said drink services will be returning May 1 for premium cabins on domestic flights. On June 1, beverage service will resume for the main cabin.