American Airlines Inc. notified flight attendants Wednesday that it intends to furlough up to 410 of them on April 1 if it does not have enough volunteers for early leaves, retirements and other programs.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said the airline told the 410 most junior of its members that they were subject to furlough, The Dallas Morning News reported in its online edition Wednesday. The union told its members of the impending furloughs in a hotline message Wednesday afternoon.
Susan Gordon, a spokeswoman for American, said the airline is facing an overage of flight attendants and is not trying to cut jobs.
"Right now we have an overage of approximately 400 flight attendants. That number depends on how many participate in a voluntary program. The voluntary programs will be open for them to opt in until March 6," she told The Associated Press Wednesday night.
The airline had offered leaves of absence, travel privileges for people quitting and job shares to try to lower the number of flight attendants.
"We have had a lower number of retirements than we would have expected based on historical retirements and a lower number of requests for short term leaves," Gordon said.
"The environment is changing rapidly," she said. "People are choosing to stay employed longer than we would have historically seen in terms of retirements and resignations. I think the economy is playing a factor where people are making different choices than they may have under a different economic environment."
Both the union and airline expressed hope that with Wednesday's announcement, more flight attendants will step forward to take leaves, share jobs or take advantage of incentives to leave so that the airline won't have to furlough more employees.
The union also said American has agreed to give furloughed flight attendants another two years in which they have the right to be recalled by the airline.