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American Airlines plans to hire 2500 pilots over 5 years

American Airlines pilots on strikeAmerican Airlines has announced that it expects to hire some 2,500 pilots in the next five years as it increases international flights. Parent AMR Corp. chief executive Thomas Horton said earlier this week that the new airline will offer even more international services to provide more opportunities for career advancement and more income for their staff. But although the airline is planning to hire more pilots, it’s cut more jobs than it’s planning to hire.

This was announced in a letter to the American Airlines workforce, which currently accounts for 8,000 active pilots. Allied Pilots Association (APA) spokesman Gregg Overman says that, in early 2001, its workforce was 14,000 pilots strong after it bought TWA. International routes are high-paying, so this is welcome. Growth is better than forecasts that American Airlines will shrink, but the new hires will only make up a little of the workforce they have lost since 2001. He added that the carrier has 650 pilots on a leave of absence, and they will be the first to be hired. At the same time, between 500 and 600 pilots are due to hit the mandatory retirement age by 2020.

The letter was issued on the same day the carrier said it would start new international routes in 2013. From April 2, it plans to fly between Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Lima, Peru. From April 11, it will fly between Chicago and Dusseldorf, Germany; starting May 9, it will fly from Dallas-Fort Worth International and Seoul; and from June 12, it will operate between John F. Kennedy International and Dublin, Ireland. Virasb Vahidi, the chief commercial officer for AMR Corp., said these routes should attract business travellers. They should also improve ties with partner carriers like British Airways and Japan Airlines.

Aside from new international routes, American Airlines is planning to launch new domestic operations on regional aircraft that are smaller than its typical planes. From February 14, it will begin services from Dallas-Fort Worth airport to Beaumont in Texas, Columbia in Missouri, and Fargo in North Dakota. It will also start offering flights between O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and Columbia.

The airline is still operating under bankruptcy protection for the time being and is seeking to capitalise on global travel growth – particularly among high-paying business travellers. It wants to prove that it can grow its business alone, while US Airways is gunning for a merger. It argues that a merger is the only way both companies will be able to compete against larger competitors Delta Air Lines and United Continental Holdings (United Airlines and Continental Airlines).

This comes as American Airline’s creditors committee is due to meet with US Airways officials on Tuesday to talk about the cost savings and revenue increases that could be had through a merger. People familiar with the plans say that this meeting could determine if the carriers will pursue a deal. They added that some executives, lawyers and bankers are expected to attend the discussions. However, one insider did note that the date of the talks could be changed.

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