American Airlines plans to hire 1,500 pilots - Dallas News |

American Airlines plans to hire 1,500 pilots

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American Airlines says it will hire 1,500 pilots over the next five years.

That's in addition to recalling all of the airline's pilots who have been furloughed.

American plans to start recruiting new pilots this fall. It's already hiring 1,500 new flight attendants.

Airlines have resumed hiring pilots in part because a large number are hitting a new mandatory retirement age of 65. The age was raised from age 60 a little over five years ago.

American earned $71 million in August, after losing $82 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 7 percent to $2.34 billion.

"It tells you American is planning to grow somewhat next year because they know how many pilots are retiring and they're not retiring 1,200 pilots so there's clearly growth there. Furthermore, since Dallas is still the largest hub, there's a good chance a lot of those pilots will be based here," said Airline Industry Analyst Mark Drusch.

After 9/11, American furloughed 2,900 pilots with the ability to bring them back when there were openings. Many of those pilots found other work in the past decade or chose not to re-join American when positions became available.

Of the new hires, nearly half will come from American Eagle because of union contract negotiations. Many pilots who've been waiting for the chance to fly domestically or internationally will get to.

"We welcome this announcement. We're glad to finally be able to exercise these rights for our pilots to move on, who wish to, to American," said Captain Matt Rettig with the American Eagle Air Line Pilots Association.

There is a downside. American Eagle only has 3,000 pilots compared to American's 8,600.

The regional carrier's union representative doesn't know how many of its pilots will leave but it could affect routes and prices. "Eagle may have to look at reducing its schedule next year depending on how quickly they can hire and train and backfill," said Drusch.

American wants to exit bankruptcy protection in a merger with US Airways Group Inc. First it needs to get past an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Justice Department. A trial is planned for November.

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