March 2, 2024

An American Airlines Group Inc. aircraft prepares to land at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York.

Timothy Fadek | Bloomberg | Getty Images

American Airlines has told the remaining 3,300 flight attendants on voluntary leave that they will be returning and recruiting new cabin crew members by November or December, according to a notice to staff sent Thursday and verified by CNBC.

This is the latest sign the airline is planning for continued travel demand beyond this summer’s surge.

“Rising customer demand and new routes starting later this year mean we need more flight attendants to run the airline,” said Brady Byrnes, vice president of flight service, in a memo.

The airline plans to hire 800 flight attendants by March 2022, the statement said.

American offered extended voluntary vacations of up to two years during the pandemic to cut costs as travel demand was devastated by the virus. It also encouraged employees to take advantage of early retirement packages. Other carriers urged employees to take similar packages with them.

But bookings, led by domestic vacation trips, rose in late spring and early summer, and now airlines are looking to add staff.

Recruiting employees who are on leave or have not actively worked can be challenging and time-consuming.

Two-thirds of American flight attendants on leave must be retrained before they can fly, Byrnes said.

“Getting up to 3,300 flight attendants back by December is not an easy task for our teams who support you behind the scenes,” wrote Byrnes.

The Dallas Morning News previously reported that the company plans to cancel flight attendants’ voluntary vacation.

American, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and other airlines have been busy training hundreds of pilots who have been called back to work, a process that in some cases can take more than a month.

These airlines, as well as United Airlines and Spirit, have announced plans to hire additional pilots to keep pace with expected robust executive demand over the next year.