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Fewer airline jobs as US carriers trim ranks

Published on Tuesday, 27 Aug 2013

WASHINGTON DC: Airline employment has dropped from last summer because of job cuts at American Airlines and regional carriers that use smaller planes.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) said on August 27 that airlines employed the equivalent of 381,441 workers in June, down 2.4 per cent from the same month last year. It’s the 10th straight month of decline compared with a year earlier.

The DOT said that American Airlines cut about 5,400 jobs, or 8.4 per cent of its workforce, as it slashed costs during bankruptcy. American Airlines had the equivalent of 59,163 full-time workers in June.

American Airlines parent AMR Corp, which is trying to merge with US Airways, has recently returned to profitability. This week it reported a record one-month adjusted profit of US$352 million for July. The airline plans to hire 1,500 entry-level flight attendants to replace some of the roughly 2,200 experienced ones who took severance offers to leave last year.

While American Airlines cut jobs, its American Eagle regional subsidiary added about 1,300 jobs or 13.5 per cent. But most regional carriers, which contract with bigger airlines to operate short-haul flights under brands such as United Express and Delta Connection, reduced jobs as high fuel costs made many 50-seat jets too expensive to fly.

Regional airlines cut jobs by 4.4 per cent from last year. ExpressJet, Pinnacle, Horizon Air and Mesa all cut jobs; SkyWest added fewer than two dozen.

A few low-cost airlines added jobs, including Spirit, Allegiant and JetBlue, but they have small work forces. Spirit grew 22.7 per cent to 3,400 full-time jobs. The largest low-cost carrier, Southwest Airlines cut 2 per cent to 45,216.

United Airlines, the world’s largest airline, had the equivalent of 82,498 full-time workers in June, down 0.1 per cent in 12 months. Second-ranked Delta had 82,498 employees, down 3.9 per cent.

To calculate airline employment, the DOT counts two part-time jobs as one full-time position.

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