More Than 13,000 American Airlines Crew Take Voluntary Leave, Early Retirement

As it weathers the new normal of less demand for travel and a reduction in flights due to the widespread growth of the coronavirus, American Airlines has started the attrition process with its pilots and flight attendants.

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that more than 13,000 pilots and flight attendants for American have accepted either early retirement or a voluntary leave this month or next.

According to the Morning News, American is offering voluntary leave to 4,800 pilots for April or May, while another 715 will be given early retirement with partial pay and full benefits. The figures include 1,500 pilots who were granted voluntary leave for April and were announced to employees last week.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants union said almost 8,000 members from American Airlines signed up for voluntary leave or early retirement out of 25,300 total. About 7,200 flight attendants signed up for three-, six- or 12-month leaves and about 760 will take early retirement. Both leave and retirement would start in May.

“These men and women have been with our airline through thick and thin and have led us through so many important moments in our airline’s and our industry’s history,” the company said in the letter about pilots taking early retirement. “The suddenness of their departure is a bit unsettling as this wasn’t what any of us had planned.”

American, like virtually every other airline, has drastically reduced flights through May. Depending on the continued growth of the virus, the reductions could last through spring and summer. The early retirements and voluntary leave should help the company reduce its workforce as needed.

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