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American Latest to Halt Pilot Hiring

The Fort Worth-based carrier said on Thursday that it would pause pilot hiring through the end of the year.

An American A321 in Charlotte. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

American says it plans to cease pilot hiring for the remainder of 2024. In a memo to conditionally-hired pilots on Thursday, the airline said all new hire classes would be paused through the end of the year as it evaluates ‘commercial and talent needs.’

The carrier joins a growing list of major airlines pumping the brakes on recruitment after a record-setting period of pilot hiring. Both Delta and United have substantially scaled back their pilot hiring outlooks this year. Southwest stopped hiring new aviators altogether.

In an April briefing, American’s Vice President of Flight Operations Russ Moore initially said the carrier would only pause hiring during peak summer and winter holiday months. He added that it plans to hire roughly 1,000 fewer new aviators this year.

“In fact, we hired and trained more pilots in 2023 than we have in the history of this airline, and we did it efficiently enough that we were actually a bit ahead of where we needed to be for the summer of 2024,” Moore shared during the briefing. “This allowed us to transition from a ‘hire and train as many as you can’ approach to a more traditional approach, which in and of itself reduced our hiring targets for 2024.”

Among the reasons for the hiring slowdown are aircraft delivery delays at Boeing, Moore said. American is currently awaiting the delivery of 787-9 Dreamliner and 737 MAX jets from the embattled manufacturer.

“As part of our previously announced capacity adjustments, we are temporarily pausing new pilot class start dates for September, October and November. This decision allows us to optimize our capacity and tailor our talent growth plans to best serve the current needs of our airline,” the carrier said in a statement Thursday evening.

Last year, American hired around 2,300 pilots, according to data from FAPA. Even with the pause, Moore noted that up to 850 of the airline’s pilots retire annually over the next five years.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on June 20, 2024 at 7:26 p.m. ET to add a statement from American.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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