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Wanted: Flight Attendants To Work For Less Pay

American became the last of the major U.S. carriers to file for bankruptcy protection in November. The airline has since negotiated new contracts with seven of its eight unions. It's trying to cut labor costs by $1 billion.

The new flight attendants will be paid less than their more experienced counterparts. They could also work less than the outgoing staff. Flight attendants work by the hour.

U.S. flight attendants made an average of $37,740 a year as of 2010, according to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. American says its flight attendants make about $45,000 a year on average, not including a supplement for meals and other travel expenses.

American's flight attendants stay in the job for an average of 21 years â¿¿ longer than any other work group. The average American flight attendant is now more than 50 years old, according to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

And the rate of those quitting or retiring is much slower than other groups as well. The airline loses about 4 percent of its attendant workforce per year through attrition. Customer service representatives leave at a rate four times that.

Those who must now look for other jobs will face a tough road. Unemployment fell below 8 percent last month for the first time in 4 years. And job growth remains sluggish. The 114,000 jobs employers added in September are roughly enough to keep pace with population growth.

American is based in Fort Worth, Texas. The company said Wednesday that it lost $238 million in the third quarter due to employee severance payouts and other costs related to its bankruptcy. The company has asked a bankruptcy judge for an additional month to present its reorganization plan. If approved, it would push the deadline for that plan to late January.

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