Airlines

Delta Air Lines doubles flight attendant hiring target to 3,000

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Key Points
  • Delta said Tuesday it expects to have 3,000 new flight attendants for its summer 2022 schedule.
  • Southwest and other carriers have also resumed hiring after air travel demand snapped back.
  • Thousands of Delta and other airline employees took early retirement packages during the pandemic at their companies' urging as they tried to cut labor costs.

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Flight attendants hand out refreshments to a packed Delta Airlines flight traveling from Ronald Regan National Airport to MinneapolisSaint Paul International Airport on Friday, May 21, 2021.
Kent Nishimura | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines on Tuesday said it plans to hire another 1,500 flight attendants ahead of summer 2022, becoming the latest carrier to add jobs after travel demand rebounded from pandemic lows.

The Atlanta-based airline was already in the process of filling 1,500 flight attendant jobs with candidates whose hiring was paused at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Delta and other airlines have been racing to fill positions from ramp workers to flight attendants to customer service agents, as well as training pilots, this summer during a surge in travel. The recovery in demand came faster than airline executives said they expected.

Airline CEOs urged thousands of employees to take unpaid or partially paid leaves of absence or early retirement packages to cut labor costs in the depths of the pandemic. About 4,000 Delta flight attendants accepted voluntary separation packages.

Airlines, like other U.S. businesses, are facing staffing crunches, leading to long hold times for customer service and in some cases exacerbating flight delays or cancellations.

Southwest Airlines last week said it is trimming its schedule through the end of the year to ease operational problems that led to hundreds of cancellations and delays this summer. The Dallas-based airline is offering its staff referral incentives worth $300 as it struggles to fill open jobs.

CEO Gary Kelly told staff on Monday that the airline has hired 1,500 people and has a goal of adding 5,200 employees by the end of November.

Delta in May said all new employees must be vaccinated against Covid and said Tuesday that any current Delta employee who is accepted to the flight attendant training program must also be inoculated.

Last week, Delta said unvaccinated employees will be charged $200 more a month for health insurance starting in November.