Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience…
A group of flight attendant labor unions have called on the Department of Transport (DOT) to review the operating licence awarded to Breeze Airways over concerns about the airline’s recruitment strategy that they claim favors young, white employees through an online university degree program.
The newest airline to grace the skies over the United States, Breeze Airways only launched its inaugural flight last week and was awarded its operating licence just a few short months ago. Breeze is the latest project by serial airline entrepreneur David Neeleman who founded jetBlue and Brazil’s Azul Airways.
The airline hopes to carve out a successful niche market by connecting lesser served airports with point-to-point flights using a fleet of Embraer regional jets which are being initially leased from Azul. Eventually, Breeze will also add Airbus A220’s to its fleet.
Neeleman claims the airline can break even fairly quicker, in part because of its low labor costs. Those labor costs have been driven down by hiring university students but providing perks like free corporate accommodation and tuition fee reimbursement.
At the time Breeze filed its operating licence application there were no objections but flight attendant unions now claim they would have objected if they knew then what they now know about the airline’s flight attendant recruitment policy, Paxex.aero reports.
Breeze hoped to fill all of its flight attendant positions with university students who signed up for online courses through Utah Valley University. The unions claim this recruitment policy would block older applicants who didn’t want to earn a Bachelors degree or had already completed a university course.
Around 70 per cent of UVU’s student population is under the age of 30 and predominantly Caucasian. “While Breeze touts its new recruitment method as a way of saving on the costs of running an airline, this method also unfortunately limits its main pool of candidates to university students,” the petition from the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), Transportation Trades Department and Transport Workers Union (TWU) argues.
“For a profession that had an established reputation for discriminating against older workers throughout history and that has only recently begun to combat these ingrained, ageist behaviors, Breeze’s recruitment strategy is more in line with historical standards rather than modern ones.”
Although the unions argue any discrimination is unlikely to be intentional, the effect might still violate the Civil Rights Act.
In response to what is believed to be a lack of interest in the UVU program, Breeze did open up a wider recruitment campaign but this was only for part-time contracts – something that the unions believe discriminates against older applicants.
Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience at a major Middle East and European airline. Mateusz is passionate about the aviation industry and helping aspiring flight attendants achieve their dreams. Cabin crew recruitment can be tough, ultra-competitive and just a little bit confusing - Mateusz has been there and done that. He's got the low down on what really works.