Southwest Airlines hired a record 3,000 flight attendants so far this year

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  • Southwest said it has 7,000 more flight attendants in the process of being hired.
  • The airline and other companies are fighting a fierce battle to ensure that airline employees can cope with the restoration of passenger traffic.
  • The hiring comes as the flight attendants’ union and management hit a roadblock in negotiating a new contract.

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Southwest Airlines has hired and trained 3,000 flight attendants this year, nearly three times the record flight attendant hiring for all of 2018, the airline told staff last week.

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Southwest and other airlines are still rushing to hire and train staff to keep up with travel demand, which executives expect to continue this fall thanks to a surge in holiday bookings.

Airlines have been banned from furloughing staff during the Covid pandemic under the terms of the $54 billion bailout, but have been allowed to offer extended leave or early retirement to employees.

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Southwest said it currently has over 62,000 full-time employees. This is more than 60,800 at the end of 2019, before the pandemic.

Southwest also hosted three “hiring blitzes” at its Dallas corporate campus, where flight attendant candidates are interviewed, tested for physical performance standards and other screenings with the possibility of receiving job offers on the spot. Another is scheduled for this week, Southwest employees said in a memo last week.

The airline has told employees it has 7,000 flight attendants on the job queue and the turnover rate among new flight attendants has dropped to 2.5% from 6.1% in 2019.

The hiring fun comes as Southwest’s union and cabin crew management get stuck in contract negotiations. According to the memorandum, negotiations with the federal mediator should begin on November 1 in Dallas.

Flight attendants from Southwest and United Airlines, represented by the CWA Flight Attendant Association, are scheduled to picket at major airports on Tuesday demanding better working conditions.

Credit: /

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