Southwest Airlines reports that since the beginning of the year, it has already hired 3,000 new flight attendants and that another 7,000 are now being sought after.
The airline informed staff members in an internal document obtained by CNBC that it had broken prior hiring records as it scrambled to fill a crew shortage as travel demand soared back.
Southwest Airlines has been careful to emphasize to its own staff that it has never hired so many new flight attendants in such a short period of time as it faces rising pressure from the flight attendants union.
Southwest claims that compared to 2018, which was a record year for recruitment, it has hired and trained more than three times as many flight attendants.
Southwest Airlines opened flight attendant hiring in September 2021 for just four hours in anticipation of a resurgence in travel demand. The airline had to reopen the hiring season in April 2022 despite receiving a flood of applications as it hurried to fill as many new flight attendant positions as it could.
Southwest can occasionally go years without hiring a flight attendant, but the TWU Local 556 union crew members say they are fed up and want change.
On Tuesday, hundreds of flight attendants will converge on 11 airports in the United States to demonstrate against what they claim is their quality of life being “crippled” by progressively deteriorating working circumstances.
The union has been negotiating with the airline for a long time, but little has been accomplished despite the union’s demands for significant wage increases and job adjustments. In an effort to resolve the impasse, the two sides will go to mediation in November.