American Airlines ( AMR) will furlough 323 flight attendants, all former TWA workers who had been recalled in the past two years. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants announced the furloughs Wednesday, scheduled for April 1, in a message to employees. American said in February that it would furlough up to 410 flight attendants, but some of the cuts were voluntarily. When TWA merged with American in 2001, about 3,000 flight attendants migrated. All of them were laid off when the industry downsized following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but several hundred were recalled starting in 2007. After the April 1 furlough, only about 170 will remain. "This is a real blow to the TWA flight attendants, and they are stunned," said Roger Graham, a former TWA flight attendant who had spearheaded recall efforts in 2007. "This is a middle-aged group, some of whom gave up other jobs to come back, after being out for five years. Now they are right back on the street." Graham said attractive salaries and health care, as well as a love of flying, lured the former TWA workers back. He suggested that current American flight attendants agree to fly fewer hours to enable others to keep their jobs. "In this economy, everyone has to recognize the need that every American may have to cut their hours to preserve the jobs of others," he said. APFA spokesman Frank Bastian said the union "wants everybody to be fully employed (but) it does not tell members what schedules to fly."
In a prepared statement, APFA President Laura Glading said: "These members were only recently recalled back to active status, and of course this will be most devastating for them. Our heart goes out to our members who will soon be without income, active coverage for health benefits and the career they love." American has been downsizing following a fuel-price spike and a decline in travel due to the faltering economy. The carrier reduced capacity by 8.3% in the fourth quarter and has said that capacity will fall by 6.5% this year, including a 9% cut in domestic capacity.