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American Airlines recalls last pilot on furlough

David Koenig, AP Airlines Writer

DALLAS (AP) -- American Airlines is recalling its last pilot still on furlough after the terror attacks of 2001 and the airline industry slump that followed.

The pilot, who wasn't identified, is expected to resume flying for American around Aug. 1, company spokesman Paul Flaningan said Friday.

The Allied Pilots Association says that about 2,900 American Airlines pilots were furloughed — laid off but with rehiring rights — beginning in the fall of 2001. At least 1,200 who were eligible for recall deferred that option, which they can do under their contract, union officials said. Some may have found other jobs and won't return.

American, the nation's third-biggest airline, has about 8,400 active pilots.

American has announced plans to merge with US Airways, but the recalls are unrelated to that, said union spokesman Gregg Overman. "This is all on the American Airlines side," he said.

According to the union, the recalled pilots will be needed because of retirements and new federal crew-rest rules that will require additional pilots on some international flights.

Last month parent AMR Corp. said that between American and its regional-flying affiliate, American Eagle, the company expected to increase passenger-carrying capacity by 1.5 percent this year. Airlines usually raise capacity by adding flights or using bigger planes.

American, which joined AMR in filing for bankruptcy protection in 2011, began recalling pilots in small numbers in 2007. Last November the company's vice president of flight, John Hale, said that American planned to recall an additional 40 pilots a month "for the foreseeable future" because of expected retirements and "operational needs."