American is the latest in a parade of airlines announcing it will recall its idled pilots and start hiring more by the end of the year as it plays catch-up on the surprisingly fast recovery of airline travel. “We intend to resume pilot hiring this fall,” Capt. Chip Long, VP of Operations for American, said in a memo to staff. “The return to flying of so many of our pilots and the addition of hundreds more, the resumption of many old routes, and the introduction of new destinations are hopeful signs.” The airline lost about 1,000 pilots to early retirement when the pandemic hit. It’s hoping to hire 300 replacements by the end of the year.
But with the success of the vaccine rollout and indications that the worst of the pandemic will be over by the summer travel season, ticket sales are climbing and American, like most other airlines, is short of pilots. International flights are still far below normal levels so the airline is leveraging that to conserve pilots and ease the staffing crunch. According to Simple Flying, widebodies normally used for intercontinental routes are being filled up for longer domestic flights while the hiring and training catches up.