Airlines Cash In as Flexible Work Changes Travel Patterns and Costs
In the past, U.S. airlines have been cautious about hiring more employees and they used the money saved by not hiring to increase their in-flight offerings and the quality and variety of their food and beverage offerings. This strategy, however, no longer represents a viable strategy for airline firms, whose in-flight offerings are too diverse, diverse geographic footprints, and too complex and diverse customer bases for any one firm to offer in a meaningful way.
Now, many airlines are changing their employee recruitment practices to make them more flexible. For instance, they will offer a variety of work types with a much smaller and more flexible employee pool. They will also use the money they save from not hiring, to add new in-flight services to the lineup of in-flight offerings they already provide.
Many airlines are bringing in new employees who are already in their systems. They are not hiring at the same rate that new hires are becoming available for senior management, marketing, and sales positions.
Many airlines also are shifting their recruiting practices by hiring new hires who previously were not in demand for the job openings created by the departure of former employees. For instance, in February 2008, United Airlines hired more than 200 flight attendants in its workforce, primarily from its in-house and franchise operations. United’s new hires are the first step in a new strategy of hiring new hires who were previously considered to be too expensive to hire on the open market.
With the new hires, United expanded its flight attendant base by 14,000 in just one year. (The company also is expanding its frequent flier programs to new markets around the world. For example, it is expanding its frequent-flier programs on routes in Europe and Asia.)
In March of 2008, American Airlines also announced that it was expanding its flight attendant workforce by more than 70 percent to 1,200 employees. They are bringing on new hires from the airlines’ ground operations at major airports, not just from their in-house and franchise operations. (For example, American Airlines is starting