620 American Airlines pilots have volunteered for early retirement, a spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, the union which represents American pilots said.
This comes as American Airlines Group, Inc. looks to cut costs amid the economic crisis COVID-19 is causing for commercial aviation. Pilots, especially those near the mandatory retirement age of 65 as they gain seniority, are often some of the most expensive front-line employees for an airline.
American is a major employer and the largest carrier operating at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix.
The early retirement option gave each American pilot approximately 60 percent of their pay, medical benefits and travel benefits until he or she reaches 65. The offer was for pilots 62 or older.
“It’s clear that a large subset of our membership found this program to be the best choice for their own individual circumstances,” said Captain Jason Goldberg, an APA spokesperson. He added the union has “every expectation” eligible pilots who volunteer for this option will be granted early retirement.
An American spokesperson declined to comment.
The 620 pilots that opted for early retirement was slightly higher than the airline’s estimation of approximately 560. A breakdown of pilots by base and aircraft type was not immediately available. American employs 3,415 pilots in Dallas-Fort Worth, according to its website.
Early retirement was one of three options the APA and American negotiated for pilots looking to take some type of leave. Pilots will now be able to bid for the other two types of leave being offered, short-term and extended leave.
The agreement the pilots and the company reached was separate from agreements American reached with other employee groups. Other American employees, like flight attendants and mechanics, were offered early outs and leaves of absences lasting three, six or 12 months. Both options are unpaid.