American Airlines is planning to resume hiring pilots this year to meet a rebound in travel demand in the summer season, reports said citing a company memo.
The airline is expected to add 300 pilots by the end of the year and double that in 2022.
Chip Long, American’s vice president of flight operations, wrote in a staff note, that the return to flying of so many American’s pilots and the addition of hundreds more, the resumption of many old routes and the introduction of new destinations are hopeful signs for the company.
The carrier had announced last week its plans to fly more than 90 percent of its 2019 domestic schedule this summer.
The Fort Worth, Texas-based company earlier had stated that it experienced softness in its bookings at the beginning of the first quarter, due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order to require a negative COVID-19 test for entry into the U.S. at the beginning of 2021.
However, American recently experienced strength in domestic and short-haul international bookings, as infection and hospitalization rates have materially declined and vaccine distribution has increased during the first quarter.
In late March, American disclosed in a regulatory filing that it expected its first-quarter system capacity – total available seat miles- to be down about 40% to 45% from first quarter 2019, compared to previous guidance of down 45%.
As of March 26, the company’s seven-day moving average of its net bookings is about 90% of the level experienced in 2019, with a domestic load factor of approximately 80% during that same period.
The company now expects the strength in bookings to continue through the end of the first quarter and into the second quarter.
American Airlines in a filing in March had stated that it would send notices to around 13,000 U.S.- based employees regarding possible furloughs, including 1,850 pilots.
American is expected to detail its demand and hiring outlook along with its first-quarter results announcement on Thursday.
United Airlines on April 1 had said it plans to recall its pilots ahead of the summer vacation season, while low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines began training for new pilots in March. JetBlue Airways also announced plans to start hiring pilots later this year.
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