American Airlines is planning to hire roughly 18,000 workers in 2022.
CEO Doug Parker will reportedly announce the plan as he and other airline executives sit before members of the Senate on Wednesday.
The CEOs of American, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines, and Delta Air Lines’ chief of operations, will face questions Wednesday from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation about mass flight cancellations and staffing struggles despite roughly $54 billion in federal payroll aid doled out to the airline industry to soften the Covid pandemic’s impact.
American and Southwest canceled hundreds of flights during brief periods this fall, as they struggled with staffing shortfalls and bad weather. Both carriers have turned to incentives like extra pay or bonuses to avoid repeats during Thanksgiving, which went smoothly, and Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Parker wrote in his testimony that American — which has about 130,000 workers — has already onboarded more than 16,000 employees in 2021.
“We believe this positive momentum will continue into next year, as we’ve set a target of hiring an additional 18,000 team members in 2022,” Parker explained. “Each time we add to our ranks, it’s like a dividend payment on the investment made in our team through the [payroll support program]; instead of building back from collapse, we’re growing to provide more promising careers in good-paying jobs to hard-working individuals who are the lifeblood of our nation’s economy.”
As The Daily Wire previously reported, airlines have left thousands of travelers stranded in recent months as they cancelled flights with minimal notice. Though the airlines typically point to labor shortages and bad weather, COVID-19 vaccine mandates could have played a role in the phenomenon.
For instance, the U.S. Freedom Flyers — an organization of airline and transportation workers working to oppose the vaccine mandates imposed by airlines and the federal government — disagreed with American Airlines’ claim that a spate of cancellations in November was attributable to high winds.
“The system is stressed as it is and now we have unions coming out and gaslighting their members that if they are unvaccinated, they need counseling and education,” Freedom Flyers founding member Jason Kusinich told The Daily Wire, citing an email from the president of the American Airlines Pilots’ Union, which said unvaccinated crew members need “education and counseling.”
Some airlines have since walked back their vaccine mandates. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, for example, explained that announcing a plan to get all employees vaccinated — without enforcing a mandate — has worked, allowing the company to attain a 90% inoculation rate.
“The reason the mandate was put in by [the] president, I believe, was because they wanted to make sure companies had a plan to get their employees vaccinated,” said Bastian, according to Fox Business. “A month before the president came out with the mandate, we had already announced our plan to get all of our people vaccinated. And the good news is the plan is working.”
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