American Airlines has asked its Texas headquartered employees to volunteer at Dallas-Fort Worth for the busy summer season. In a letter to employees, American is asking for help for frontline workers at the airport as it struggles to meet staffing needs for the pent-up post-pandemic travel demand.
Tasks for workers normally dealing with networks, maintenance planning, and scheduling include smaller scale logistics, such as directing passengers through the terminal or ensuring equipment is in the right location for staff accompanying travelers who use wheelchairs. American expects to need the extra help from June to mid-August.
There will be no additional compensation. However, the six-hour shifts will count as part of employees’ weekly hours. The program is entirely free of choice. Meanwhile, each volunteer will be asked to sign up for three shifts minimum. The internal memo asking for volunteers read,
“Beyond the support it provides our frontline team member, it’s also an opportunity for our corporate support team to gain an appreciation for and a better understanding of the work our airport teams do.”
Meant to become a recurring event
While the program is set to kick off at DFW this summer, American expects to turn the busy-season volunteer opportunities into a recurring thing. Perhaps the carrier is taking inspiration from Delta’s ‘Peach Corps’ program, where administrative and managerial staff often help out at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport and other places in the country during extraordinary events or busiest times of the year.
Simple Flying was unable to receive a comment from American Airlines ahead of publication. However, a spokesperson for the carrier told the Tampa Bay Times that,
“As we look forward to welcoming back more of our customers this summer, we know they’re counting on us to deliver a reliable operation and help them feel comfortable as they return after many months away from traveling. That’s something our front-line teams are experts on as they regularly go above and beyond to take care of our customers. To ensure they have the support they need this summer and beyond, our corporate support teams will provide additional support at DFW.”
Nearly 2,000,000 US passengers Sunday
Needless to say, American has less support staff to draw from due to cost-cutting measures following the crisis. In 2019, American employed 130,000 people. Following voluntary separations, early retirements, and about 1,500 layoffs, that number was down to 102,700 for the fiscal year of 2020. However, the airline is also planning for more flights from DFW than it operated in 2019.
As more and more people have gotten vaccinated, US airline traffic has shown a strong rebound trajectory. On Sunday, June 6th, the TSA saw 1,984,658 passengers pass through security checkpoints at the country’s airport, the highest number since the start of the pandemic.