American Airlines recalling 800 staff

American Airlines is recalling about 800 furloughed employees, about 1 percent of its work force, as it adds flights on international routes.

CEO Gerard Arpey announced the jobs as American launched a new trans-Atlantic business with British Airways and Spanish airline Iberia. American is working on a similar alliance with Japan Airlines across the Pacific.

“This is exactly the kind of growth we’re looking for, and my hope is that trends like this will continue,” Arpey said at a news conference in London.

Arpey said that a recent rebound in business traffic and growing signs that the United States would avoid a double-dip recession were encouraging to the airline industry, “but I would have to describe the recovery as fragile.”

American will recall 250 pilots starting in November and 545 flight attendants starting this month. The airline last recalled pilots in 2009 and flight attendants in 2008.

The moves will reduce the number of furloughed pilots at American to about 1,730 and out-of-work flight attendants to 805, the company said. American has 73,000 employees, including 7,800 pilots and 14,755 flight attendants, according to a spokesman.

American Airlines President Thomas Horton said the recalls were partly the result of increased international flying, especially out of New York’s Kennedy Airport.

Traffic on American Airlines rose 5.6 percent last month compared with September 2009. The biggest increases were on international routes.

The news on jobs came as American, BA and Iberia announced four new routes as part of their joint business venture. They said trans-Atlantic flying would bring in $7 billion to $8 billion in annual revenue between the three.

The airlines received approval from U.S. and European regulators to work together on setting prices and schedules, which otherwise would violate antitrust laws. The airlines said they will finally be able to compete fairly with other airlines including Delta, Air France-KLM, United and Lufthansa, which already enjoy immunity from antitrust laws on international service.

British Airways combined with Iberia this year to create Europe’s third-largest airline. While Wednesday’s service alliance lets BA and American create a virtual merger of their trans-Atlantic service, an actual combination would be barred by U.S. law, which strictly limits foreign ownership of U.S. airlines.

American, BA and Iberia have placed code-shares on more than 2,600 additional flights, meaning travelers will be able to buy tickets for all three airlines on any of the carriers’ websites. The airlines say this will give passengers the ability to shop for cheaper fares and more flights.

Shares of American parent AMR Corp. rose 10 cents to close at $6.21 Wednesday.
Source: AP

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