American Airlines flight attendants are buckling in for a rough ride. The airline sent out a letter to their flight attendants on Friday. It is a contradictory document that celebrates American Airlines as a great place to work while forecasting deteriorating work conditions. The letter says the airline will be “thrilled” if flight attendants elected to stay on. Yet it also encourages them to contemplate leaving.
“The reality is our business is going to change, moving forward, and for the long-term. While we have talked about these ideas previously, it may be helpful to see it all together as you are deciding your future,” the letter says.
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American Airlines wants to cut flight attendants numbers by around 10,000
Gary Leff in View From The Wing has published a copy of that letter to flight attendants. In the letter, American Airlines warns of changes and a more demanding workload.
American Airlines has sent out WARN notices to nearly 10,000 flight attendants. That’s around 37% of their total flight attendant pool. A WARN notice doesn’t mean you will lose your job. Instead, it’s a formal notification that your job is at risk. Generally, employers are required by law to give 60 days’ notice.
That’s precisely what American Airlines is doing. With CARES Act funding due to end on October 1, many expect mass layoffs across the airline industry to occur. American’s CEO, Doug Parker, has said revenues were down 80% in June. Around 25% of American Airlines’ workforce face losing their jobs.
Ideally, American Airlines would prefer flight attendants volunteered to leave the airline rather than being involuntarily laid off. But Gary Leff reports only 401 flight attendants have put their hand up so far. It falls far short of the numbers American Airlines is seeking.
American Airlines warns flight attendants of a tougher work environment
Friday’s letter makes explicit what American Airlines flight attendants can look forward too if they choose to stay on.
Going forward, reserve seniority at some bases will exceed 35 years. There will be fewer junior flight attendants on the straight reserve or one-on, one-off rotation. Most (80%) of flight attendants will be in the reserve pool.
Higher line averages will become more common. Line averages will be in the low to mid-80-hour range. The paid 70-hour voluntary leave of absences will end. Monthly paid voluntary leave of absences will also cease.
“Trips will look a lot different as we need to build a more efficient schedule,” says the letter to flight attendants. There will be more four-day domestic trips and longer days with multiple legs. There’s also the possibility of longer sit times and short layovers.
Available IPD (international premium destinations) trips will reduce as will the number of positions available on each IPD trip. Intercontinental widebody rosters will reduce to the FAA minimum plus one. Cross country east-west A321T flights will operate with five flight attendants rather than the usual six.
American notes it is overstaffed in Miami, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. They say this means building expensive “less than optimal trips.”
All cabin crew will have to wear masks will on duty for the foreseeable future. The 40-hour monthly minimum stays. American Airlines says this is both a contractual requirement and impacts on how the bidding and trading systems work.
American Airlines plays it straight
Due credit to American Airlines for painting a realistic picture of what work will be like for their flight attendants in the short to medium-term future. However, the letter strongly urges flight attendants to consider all their options. If flight attendants elect to stay on, American says it will be “thrilled.” But it wants these flight attendants to stay on with their eyes wide open.
“This is an important decision for each of you and one I know many of you are wrestling with.
“With this decision, you’re re-committing yourself to rebuilding our airline, and everything the flight attendant job will entail moving forward.
“American is and will continue to be a great place to work, and I’m confident the steps we’re taking now will position us for long-term survival.”