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American Airlines Is Bringing Back Pilots As Travel Industry Slowly Bounces Back

An American Airlines jet
Matt Rourke
Associated Press

Hundreds of pilots will soon return to flying as passengers book more and more flights. Still, American Airlines expects it could take months or years to recover from the devastating pandemic.

Despite reporting a loss of more than a billion dollars in the first quarter, Fort Worth-based American Airlines says it will soon rehire hundreds of pilots.

American Airlines notified pilots this week that many of them will soon be flying again, says Gregg Overman with the Allied Pilots Association.The union represents about 15,000 American Airlines pilots.

“This fall, the initial number will be 300 and next year more like 900 pilots,” Overmann said. “During the pandemic, about 1,000 pilots took early retirement. The baby boomer generation is beginning to retire, so the company does need to hire more pilots.”

Overman said the pandemic has paralyzed business. But the vaccines are changing things, at least in the United States.

“International travel remains way down, versus 2019. Domestic travel continues to come back very strongly,” Overman said.

He says pilots are eager to get in the air again,. and the carrier is facilitating vaccinations.

Going back to February 2020, Overman said about 1,400 APA pilots have contracted COVID-19.

Got a tip? Email Reporter Bill Zeeble at You can follow him on Twitter @bzeeble.

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Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.