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Southwest Airlines hired a record 3,000 flight attendants to date this yr

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Passengers deplane from a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas at Hollywood Burbank Airport in Burbank, California, Oct. 10, 2021. Southwest Airlines canceled greater than 1,000 flights Sunday, as a part of a significant weekend service disruption that the carrier attributed to bad weather, air traffic control and its own shortage of obtainable staff.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines has hired and trained 3,000 flight attendants to date this yr, nearly triple its record cabin crew member hiring in all of 2018, the carrier told staff last week.

Southwest and other airlines are still racing to rent and train staff to cater to a rebound in travel demand, which executives expect to carry up this fall, led by strong leisure bookings.

Airlines were prohibited from shedding staff in the course of the Covid pandemic under the terms of a $54 billion bailout but were allowed to supply employees prolonged leaves of absence or early retirement.

Southwest said it currently has greater than 62,000 full-time equivalent employees. That is greater than the 60,800 it had at the tip of 2019, before the pandemic. 

Southwest has also hosted three “Hiring Blitzes” at its corporate campus in Dallas, where flight attendant candidates are interviewed, perform physical performance standards tests and other screenings with a possible for on-the-spot contingent job offers. One other is scheduled for this week, Southwest said in an worker memo last week.

The carrier told staff that it has 7,000 flight attendants in its hiring pipeline and that its attrition rate amongst recent cabin crew members has dropped to 2.5% compared with 6.1% in 2019.

The hiring spree comes as Southwest flight attendants’ union and management have been locked in contract negotiations. Talks with a federal mediator are set to start Nov. 1 in Dallas, in keeping with the memo.

Southwest and United Airlines flight attendants, that are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, are set to picket at major airports on Tuesday to demand higher working conditions.

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