The price of a lifetime travel pass with American Airlines was $250,000 back in 1981. It was an unlimited first class travel on American Airlines. Today, that same ticket would be worth about $700,000.
While that same ticket today may not be worth its price considering the severe restrictions on travel throughout the globe, one could wonder how wonderful it must have been to have that type of privilege.
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The chart above shows the count of pilot retiring by age 65(mandated by Federal Regulations) for each airline by each year. American Airlines has the highest count of pilot retirements than its competitors. Its highest count is 941 in year 2025. Delta Air Lines has its highest count in year 2022 at 780 pilots. United Airlines has its retirement peak at 727 in year 2028.
American Airlines has the highest average count of pilot retirements at 539 pilots per year on average. Alaska Airlines has the lowest average count of 53 pilots per year. The two cargo carriers, Fedex and UPS, each has an average of 191 pilots per year and 154 pilots per year, respectively. (Something to keep in mind is that the data available for UPS only goes up to 2033. The data for Southwest Airlines goes all the way to 2052.)
From the chart above, what we don’t know is how accurate the current count for 2020 is. As many airlines have offered early retirement packages, the number of pilots that have submitted their requests for early retirements and the number that got approved have not been published.
However, if you look at the data even during pre-covid time, American Airlines still had the highest attrition through pilot retirements. The big three legacy airlines had the highest pilot retirement numbers during pre-covid time.
This is an important data as many airlines are offering and pushing for their senior pilots to take the early out programs. Will many senior pilots take up on the early retirement deal? Will it be enough to save jobs for junior pilots? That is an ongoing debate.
Here’s another chart for better visibility in different lighting.
Today American Airlines has sent out WARN notices to its employees. Here are the breakdown by workgroup:
Pilots: 2,500 or 18% of workgroup
Flight Attendants: 9,950 or 37% of workgroup
Maintenance & Related: 3,200 or 22% of workgroup
Fleet Service: 4,500 or 26% of workgroup
Passenger Service: 2,900 or 30% of workgroup
Reservations: 1,000 or 23% of workgroup
Dispatch: 175 or 36% of workgroup
Flight Crew Training Instructors and Sim Pilot Instructors: 50 or 15% of workgroup
Flight Simulator Engineers 10 or 7% of workgroup
A WARN notice is a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification letter. It is a written notification required by federal law to let employees know of potential furloughs. A WARN notice is NOT the same as a furlough. American Airlines still have opportunity to work with their respective union partners to workout the deals. They are offering incentivized voluntary leave and early retirement programs.
According toflightglobal.com, the Allied Pilot Association, representing 15,000 pilots at American Airlines, is reviewing the pilot training draft that it has received.
Boeing 737-Max has been grounded all over the world since March of 2019. While the training draft as been received by American Airlines, the FAA has the final authority to approve the pilot training draft for airlines.