Eastern To Hire 1,300 Flight Attendants By Fall
MIAMI (AP) _ Eastern Airlines, which laid off 1,010 flight attendants less than six months ago as it faced bankruptcy, Tuesday launched a campaign to hire 1,300 new flight attendants by October.
The furloughed flight attendants were all called back to work in March, in the aftermath of Eastern’s agreement to a Texas Air buyout, noted company spokesman Mark Wegel. Only 735 returned, and ″normal high attrition″ among flight attendants, combined with recent or planned expansion of routes, has left Eastern with a shortage, he said.
″Obviously, our whole outlook has changed considerably,″ Wegel said. ″Six months ago, we were looking to cutting back in every area.
″We’re looking to grow. You need personnel to do that,″ he said.
Eastern has 6,700 flight attendants and expects to have 7,800 by year’s end, he said.
The reason for the big push to beef up flight crews is an ″incredible″ attrition rate that is up 500 percent from previous years as large numbers of employees have resigned, retired or been fired, said R. David Butler, spokesman for the Transport Workers Union Local 553, which represents flight attendants.
Eastern, which recently increased its East-West routes through Kansas City, Mo., and is planning to expand late-night cargo-passenger routes, will increase service 6 percent by the end of the year, Wegel said.
Earlier this year, Eastern was locked in a battle with the Transport Workers over a new contract for flight attendants, which was ratified March 31.
Woody Montgomery, manager for flight crew employment, called the recruitment ″one of the most aggressive flight attendant hiring efforts Eastern has ever initiated.″ He said recruiting will be concentrated in New York and the Southeast.
Meanwhile, Eastern was denied a bid to open new routes to Japan by an administrative law judge of the U.S. Department of Transportation who recommended that Delta Air Lines and American Airlines share those routes instead.
But the DOT on Monday approved Texas Air Corp.’s request to bypass a full, evidentiary hearing in its $660 million buyout of Eastern. The decision will expedite consideration of the merger, Eastern spokesman Jerry Cosley said.
Airlines that object to the merger will file their concerns in writing, DOT ruled. Also, Texas Air was denied a request to take full control of Eastern before full approval of the buyout.
Texas Air, under Lorenzo, also operates New York Air and Continental Airlines.