After two months of 100-plus pilot retirements, only 68 pilots decided to retire from American Airlines on Monday.
American Airlines spokeswoman Missy Cousino said that the November pilot retirements are not anticipated to have an effect on the Fort Worth-based carrier’s schedule.
“A number of steps have been taken over the last few months to mitigate staffing shortages as a result of the higher pilot retirements in September and October,” Cousino said.
American has already cut capacity by 3 percent for its winter flight schedule to adjust to the higher-than-usual number of pilot retirements. On average, about a dozen pilots retire from American each month.
Of the 68 pilot retirements, only 47 were on active duty. Seventeen of the retired pilots worked on MD-80s while 16 pilots operated Boeing 767 aircraft.
There were fewer pilot retirements than had been anticipated partly because of the stock market’s recovery in October.
In addition to their pensions, American pilots have a defined contribution retirement plan, Plan B. It lets pilots lock in the value of the fund 60 days before their effective retirement date. So pilots who retire today can get funds based on stock market values on Sept. 1. The Dow Jones industrial average has increased 4 percent since Sept. 1.
Shares of AMR [ticker: AMR] declined 3 percent or 8 cents to close at $2.63 on Monday.
Currently, the pilots union and American are in ongoing contract negotiations in Fort Worth. A few weeks ago it appeared that the two sides were close to a deal, however, no tentative agreement has been reached.
It takes six to eight weeks to train a pilot on a new aircraft, and American has been recalling 30 to 40 pilots a month. Last year, the carrier announced that it was recalling 250 pilots as it added international routes as part of its agreement with British Airways and Iberia.
More pilots will have to retire starting in December 2012 because of federal requirements that increased the mandatory retirement age for pilots from 60 to 65 in 2007. The first group of pilots forced to retire under the new requirement will hit 65 at the end of next year.