American Airlines has confirmed it will reduce the size of its flight attendant bases in Phoenix and St. Louis as part of the company’s effort to “best utilize” the carrier’s more than 27,000 flight attendants. Employees were yesterday told that the Phoenix crew base could shrink by as many as 700 staffers, while St. Louis is likely to lose 75 flight attendants.
The Dallas Fort Worth-based airline was at pains to point out that the base resizing would not result in any job losses – to the contrary, American noted that it still intends on hiring 700 new hires this year alone. Other crew bases are also likely to benefit from the review but DFW and Los Angeles (LAX) set to benefit the most.
American pointed out that the review was started after the company fully integrated legacy American flight attendants (LAA) with their counterparts at the former U.S. Airways (LUS). “Doing business as one airline and one team means making sure we best utilize our more than 27,000 flight attendants and your time,” an internal memo read.
“What made sense for base sizes for two separate airlines may not make sense when those airlines are combined,” it continued, explaining that full implementation meant more efficient crew scheduling (before implementation, flight attendants worked on separate contracts and could not be rostered to work on the same plane together).
“We expect to increase staffing at DFW and LAX by approximately 700 flight attendants at each base. Over the long-term we expect PHX and St. Louis will be about one-third smaller than their current size,” read both the good and bad news.
The growth at Dallas Fort Worth will come from an expanded domestic schedule, as well as new or expanded international destinations including Munich, Dublin, Paris, and Madrid.
The situation is a little more complicated in Los Angeles where growth has come mainly from using former U.S. Airways aircraft – before integration, American couldn’t get its legacy flight attendants to operate U.S. Airways aircraft so instead, LUS crew were commuting from Phoenix. That’s obviously no longer needed.
So what does that mean for the flight attendants based in these cities? Well, American says not much will change in the short term – there won’t be any job losses and flights aren’t about to be cut. But if flight attendants have been considering a base transfer then now’s the time to act.
Lori Bassani from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), however, suggests the move is part of a ploy to destabilize and divide the union’s membership as it enters a critical round of negotiations with the company. She says the decision to resize the bases was made with no clear direction.
The decision comes just days after the actress Jessica Chastain called out American for not paying flight attendants for key duties like boarding and ground delays. The airline responded by telling her that the terms and conditions were part of a contract that had been negotiated with unions.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.