Though its parent company, AMR Corp. (PINK:AAMRQ), remains in bankruptcy, American Airlines is planning to expand international flights and will add 2,500 pilots to handle the increased traffic over the coming five years.
If the airline adds new pilots as planned, it will start by rehiring 650 who are currently on furlough, the Associated Press noted.
The company, which employed about 8,000 pilots this year, indicated that it will begin serving new international routes in 2013, looking to take advantage of business travelers and better compete with larger airlines including United Continental Holdings’ (NYSE:UAL) United Airlines and Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL).
While the new hires would bring American’s roster of pilots to about 10,500, that would still be well under the 14,000 it employed a decade ago.
American has struggled to negotiate new contracts with its unions, a necessary step if it is to emerge from bankruptcy. It has concluded agreements with every union, save for its pilots.
A representative of the pilots union called news of the expanded international flights “welcome,” since those flights offer higher pay.
The airline has been exploring a possible merger with US Airways (NYSE:LCC).