Dallas, TX (written by Charisse Jones/USA Today) -- Passengers flying American will soon see some new faces on board.
American Airlines said Wednesday that it will be hiring new flight attendants for the first time in a more than a decade.
"We look forward to welcoming new faces and working together to bring a fresh energy to our team,'' Lauri Curtis, American's vice president of flight service, said in a statement.
The airline is looking to recruit more than 1,500 flight attendants, posting the new slots next month. Their training starts in January.
The new hires are needed, as more than 2,200 flight attendants accepted buyouts and will begin leaving the airline in December.
Airline spokesman Bruce Hicks said the hiring push helps the airline take advantage of new productivity measures negotiated with American's flight attendants union as the airline has been reorganizing under federal bankruptcy protection to position itself for greater growth.
Leslie Mayo, spokeswoman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, said hiring new attendants is long overdue.
"It's been 11 years since we've seen a new flight attendant,'' Mayo said. The buyouts, she said, were "to get our senior flight attendants a way to leave ... with some dignity and $40,000. And it also gives our junior flight attendants some movement within the system that hasn't seen movement in 11 years.''
Current attendants will depart between December and September 2013.
American's parent company, AMR, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy-court-protected restructuring in November, and the airline has been seeking ways to shave its annual labor costs by roughly $1.1 billion.
While it has worked out deals with its attendants and mechanics, American is still trying to reach an agreement with its pilots, whom the airline has accused of calling in sick and filing nuisance maintenance reports to disrupt the airline's flight schedule.
On Tuesday, American sought a 30-day extension with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. If approved, the airline would have until Jan. 28 to file its restructuring plan.
The airline said in the court filing that it needs more time to work out the plan's details as well as to resolve labor issues with its pilots and its regional carrier, American Eagle.
Restructuring costs contributed to AMR reporting a loss of $238 million for the earnings period of July through September on Wednesday.
Without reorganization costs and special charges, the airline said, it would have a net profit of $110 million.
American CEO Tom Horton said in a letter to employees that the $110 million profit was a $272 million gain compared with the same period last year, and that the carrier also successfully cut costs in the last quarter.
"Our careful review of strategic alternatives continues, but regardless of the outcome, our improvement in both revenues and costs reflects what the new American can be,'' he said.
But Vicki Bryan, senior high-yield analyst at corporate bond research service Gimme Credit, said that it was the bankruptcy protection from creditors and declining fuel costs that helped the airline's bottom line.
"It's not paying all the bills, and then they got a savings on fuel,'' she said. "This is nothing to brag about.''