Writer: Jerrica DuBois
2 min read January 2023 — The Association of Professional Flight Attendants has spoken out for higher pay, scheduling flexibility and improvements to the wage structuring and absentee policies amid work actions at American Airlines hubs.
Hundreds of flight attendants picketed at American Airlines hubs across the country last week, including at DFW airport, which is the company’s biggest hub. The metroplex was joined in the effort by protests in Boston, Charlotte, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and San Francisco.
“We need more flight attendants like we need more pilots,” said APFA Vice President Larry Salas in a statement. “Flight attendants are doing more flying than they did before the pandemic and the company can’t hire flight attendants fast enough.”
After going without raises since 2019, flight attendants for American Airlines are currently in contract negotiations.
In terms of business, American Airlines is back in the black. The airline ended the fourth quarter of 2022 with an unadjusted net income of 1.14opens PDF file per share, or $803 million. American also ended the year with $127 million in net income, which, according to a statement by CEO Robert Isom, was the first full-year profit since 2019.
The turnaround in profits the airline has documented occurred while operating at 6.1% less capacity, an indication that flyers are continuing to pay increasing ticket prices.
Isom is also positive about the airline’s position heading into 2023. With the Southwest Airlines holiday nightmare fresh in mind, American is increasing investments in its team and technology.
American’s new HEAT Software, for example, uses predictive analytics to build a schedule that gets ahead of weather. The software makes recommendations on which flights to keep and which to cancel based on factors including crews, airplanes, connections and customers. American’s planes are also an advantage, as the airline has the youngest fleet among U.S. carriers with an average age of 12.4 years.
But what does all this good news mean for the contract negotiations that are still on the table for the flight attendants? According to American Airline spokesman Timothy Wetzel, picketing is typical during negotiations and the airline is committed to reaching an agreement that is good for the flight attendants and the company. He told Dallas Morning News, “We continue to meet regularly with the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, have made meaningful progress, and continue to make reaching a new agreement our highest priority.”