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Fort-Worth based American Airlines warns it could be overstaffed by up to 8,000 flight attendants

"It’s no secret that COVID-19 has drastically reduced the demand for air travel," Senior Vice President Jill Surdek said.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this March 31, 2020 file photo, American Airlines planes stored at Pittsburgh International Airport sit idle on a closed taxiway in Imperial, Pa. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Fort-Worth based American Airlines informed its employees that it is projected to be overstaffed by up to 8,000 flight attendants due to the financial impact from the coronavirus pandemic. 

"It’s no secret that COVID-19 has drastically reduced the demand for air travel," Senior Vice President Jill Surdek said in an internal memo sent Wednesday.

According to the letter, the airline is looking to reduce the number of furloughs through voluntary options and working with the unions before October. 

The airline says it is evaluating flight attendant staffing, schedules, how flights are allocated, and various flight attendant bases.

"The outcome will depend on the appetite for voluntary options," Surdek said. 

Other steps the airline plans on taking include the following:

  • Closing its bases in St. Louis and Raleigh/Durham effective during the February 2021 bid month. American Airlines will convert the bases to satellites effective March 2021.
  • Due to a smaller network, adjusting relative base sizes to match the reduced schedule in early 2021. The airline also expects its Latin American bases to be smaller.
  • American will reduce staffing on international widebody and transcontinental flights to the minimum required by the Federal Aviation Administration, plus one flight attendant, effective Oct. 1. 
  • The airline will close the FABRC (flight attendant bidding resource center) effective Oct 1. 

"While we hope our customers continue returning to the skies in the coming months, the reality is that this pandemic has changed our business for years to come. Things like less international flying, lower crew complements, and fewer crew bases are part of our new reality," Surdek said.

RELATED: Major airlines stepping up face mask enforcement for passengers

American and 4 other airlines reach loan agreements with US

American Airlines is among five airlines that have accepted terms of new loans from the government to help them survive the virus pandemic. 

The Treasury Department said Thursday it finalized terms of new loans to American, Spirit, Frontier, Hawaiian, and SkyWest. Those and all other leading U.S. airlines previously accepted a combination of grants and loans to help cover payroll costs through Sept. 30. 

These five are the first to take loans from a separate $25 billion kitty that Congress set aside under a $2.2 billion measure to help companies hurt by the pandemic. Air travel in the U.S. dropped about 95% by mid-April. 

It has recovered slowly but remains down about 75% from a year ago.  

RELATED: How risky is flying during the coronavirus pandemic?

American Airlines resumes booking flights to full capacity

Earlier this week, the airline resumed booking flights to full capacity. Since April, American Airlines has limited the number of passengers on flights in an effort to space customers during the pandemic. 

During check-in, customers are required to "certify they have been free of COVID-19 symptoms for the past 14 days." 

Travelers will go through a checklist of potential symptoms that was created in partnership with Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

American said that it will continue to notify customers of full flights and let them change flights at no cost. The airline said in a release that they will provide flexibility for tickets booked through Sept. 30.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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