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American Airlines to Hire 80 in South Florida

Jan. 17, 2013

Jane Wooldridge

American Airlines jet  

In recent months, most job news at American Airlines involved layoffs and
union contracts. On Wednesday, Miami's largest airline carrier said it will
hire 80 full-time South Florida reservations and sales agents who will work
from home.

"It's terrific news," said Art Torno, American's vice president for
Mexico, the Caribbean, and Latin America and who is based in Miami.

The announcement came on the heels of a positive earnings report earlier
in the day. Despite disruptions from Superstorm Sandy and a pilots slowdown,
American parent AMR Corp. reported net income of $262 million in the fourth
quarter of 2012 -- a huge reversal from its $1.1 billion loss in 2011's fourth
quarter. The company credited a 13 percent decrease in labor costs as it
eliminated thousands of jobs and reworked union contracts to cut costs under
Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The reservation sales agent is a new job classification for Miami and
pays a starting salary of $9.53 per hour plus health and travel benefits;
within six months the salary moves to $10 per hour. Candidates must live
within a 75 radius of Miami International Airport for supervisory and training
reasons, Torno said. No incentives were involved in bringing the jobs to
Miami, he said.

"Miami is important for American and locating these positions here
further underscores our commitment to the community," said Art Torno, "What's
good for Miami is good for American Airlines.''

A spokesman for the Communications Workers of America said the hires were
part of a pattern in which American has eliminated high-paying jobs in favor
of ones that pay lower wages, such as the work-at-home positions. "It's
another attempt to restructure their company on the backs of employees,'' said
CWA spokesman Chuck Porcari.

Earlier in the day, customer-service agents at American Airlines narrowly
rejected a union's bid to represent them in collective bargaining with the
company. The union said it lost votes because American cut about 2,000 agent
jobs after filing for bankruptcy protection in November 2011. Spokeswoman
Candice Johnson said departing workers had to give up job-recall rights to get
severance payments, which made them ineligible to vote.

American acknowledged that about 900 agents who took early-out bonuses
gave up their recall rights, and those who left before the election couldn't
vote. The airline countered, however, that it wanted about 800 people hired
after the union filed its election petition to vote, but it lost a ruling on
the issue from the National Mediation Board, which oversees
union-representation elections.

Currently American and its regional carrier American Eagle employ 9,894
employees in Miami-Dade county and 43 in Fort Lauderdale, making it one of the
largest private employers in the area. Overall, 49 percent of American's sales
and reservations agents work from home at hubs near airports in Norfolk, Va.;
Hartford, Conn.; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area; Raleigh-Durham, N.C. area and
Tucson, Ariz.

The Miami area is one of five American hubs the company has targeted for
growth. In 2012, the airline grew capacity by 4.6 percent when counted in
available seat miles and increased the number of passengers by 6.1 percent.
The airline added seven new destinations from Miami in 2012 and announced four
more earlier this month.

The additional Miami employees were needed because of that growth and
attrition elsewhere; no layoffs were involved, said Torno. He said he
anticipated future Miami hires, including flight attendants, later this year.

Last year, the airline had indicated as many as 1,400 employees might be
laid off locally due to restructuring following its November 2011 bankruptcy
filing. The actual number was about 400, the airline said; most of those were
agents and maintenance workers. Many of those jobs were shifted to outside
contractors, for a total net gain of 250 workers in the region, Torno said.

Applicants for the newly announced jobs must be 18 years or older, have a
GED or high school diploma and be located within a 75-mile radius from Miami
International Airport. Candidates will begin a seven-week training process on
March 18 in Miami. Information and applications are available at

Since August, AMR and US Airways have been engaged in merger discussions.
A decision on whether they will proceed is expected by the end of January.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: (c)2013 The Miami Herald Distributed by MCT Information Services

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