News Column

American Airlines, American Eagle Lead Industry in Job Cuts

June 26, 2013
airline jobs

American Airlines and American Eagle have cut nearly 6,500 jobs since parent AMR Corp. filed bankruptcy in November 2011, the highest number of job losses in an industry known for slashing employment.

According to an April-to-April report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation, all domestic passenger airlines had cut about 9,500 jobs in a 12-month period or 2.4 percent of total employment. AMR Corp., with American Airlines and regional carrier American Eagle, accounted for slightly more than half of those losses -- 4,801 jobs.

"Job reductions are an unfortunate part of restructuring, but we believe American is well on the way to being a stronger, more competitive airline," American Airlines spokesperson Mike Trevino said. "We're already hiring new flight attendants and recalling pilots to be part of the new American."

The report is a reminder of the challenges the airline industry still faces after more than a decade of bankruptcies, consolidations, job losses and restructured employee contracts.

Data for March shows that airline passenger traffic is improving, up 1 percent from a year earlier, to 65.1 million passengers. But airlines also cut 18,800 flights from March 2012 to March 2013.

Even with job slashing and consolidation, the nation's 10 largest airlines lost a combined $144.5 million in the last three months of 2012, led by $574.3 million in fourth-quarter losses at United Continental Holdings Inc. United lost another $325 during the first quarter.

Southwest Airlines, the nation's fourth largest passenger airline by employees, cut about 500 jobs in the past year.

Some airlines, however, managed to add jobs, such as American Airlines' merger partner US Airways, which increased employment by 500 positions, to 30,878 employees.

After the proposed merger, the combined airline would have about 100,000 employees. AMR Corp. employed 70,211 people in April.

United Airlines, the nation's largest carrier for now, added 134 jobs between April 2012 and April 2013.

American Airlines has about 6,200 jobs at its Tulsa Maintenance & Engineering Center, the largest aircraft repair facility in the country.

Job cuts at American have come from all areas, including the closure of the Alliance maintenance base in Fort Worth last year along with the elimination of 2,000 mechanic positions.

Many workers took early retirements, and the company laid off about 1,500 people.

American Airlines alone lost about 6,200 jobs in the past year, but regional carrier American Eagle added 1,392 positions.

New jobs at American Eagle have come from contract work with other airlines, such as baggage handling and airplane cleaning.

American also has started the process of recalling some of its furloughed pilots and is currently hiring about 1,500 flight attendants.

US Airways and American Airlines are slated to merge by the end of the third quarter, after getting regulatory, court and US Airways shareholder approval.

Largest U.S. airlines (by employees) as of April

Airline Employment Change*

1. United-Continental 82,446 +146

2. Delta-Northwest 73,863 -2,796

3. AMR Corp. 70,211 -4,801

4. Southwest 45,590 -534

5. US Airways 30,878 +491

All airlines 380,748 -9,495

--From year earlier



Source: (c)2013 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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