Spirit Airlines is hiring pilots and flight attendants again in hopes of pandemic recovery

A Spirit Airlines jet comes in for a touchdown at McCarran International Airport on May 25, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller | Getty Images

Spirit Airlines is planning to start out coaching new pilots and flight attendants as early as subsequent month because the finances service positions itself for a journey rebound after the pandemic hunch.

“We’ll be a big hirer again,” CEO Ted Christie stated Thursday. “Growth in the airline industry is going to be at the leisure end, and we’re the primary server of that guest.”

Christie stated the airline plans to rent for different positions as properly this 12 months. Spirit final skilled a category of new pilots in May and new flight attendants final February, a spokesman stated.

The service declined to say what number of workers it plans so as to add this 12 months. It ended final 12 months with 8,756 workers, together with 2,497 pilots and 4,028 flight attendants, in accordance with a securities submitting.

The airline is additionally calling again some employees who took leaves of absence, packages that helped keep away from involuntary furloughs of unionized employees, who make up the majority of its workers. Some of these workers, like pilots, may also want to satisfy federally mandated coaching necessities earlier than returning to the job.

“Our training footprint can only handle so much, so it has to be phased,” Christie stated of the corporate’s hiring plans.

Spirit misplaced $428.7 million in 2020, its first annual web loss since at the least 2007, in accordance with FactSet knowledge. U.S. airways collectively misplaced greater than $34 billion final 12 months as a result of of the pandemic, which executives name the trade’s worst-ever disaster.

Spirit, like others, is now hoping that the rollout of vaccines will assist spur a revival in air journey. The airline expects to get again to 2019 capability ranges by midyear, it stated.

“Vaccine deployment, lowering total Covid case numbers should lead to more confidence from the traveling public and a loosening of restrictions,” Christie stated.

The turnaround will take time.

Spirit and different airways noticed weaker-than-expected demand as Covid instances rose late final 12 months and in the beginning of 2021, in addition to a gradual begin to vaccine distribution. New journey restrictions equivalent to Covid check necessities for worldwide, U.S.-bound flights additionally harm bookings.

Cowen & Co. airline analyst Helane Becker forecast Spirit’s first-quarter income shall be down 46% in contrast with pre-pandemic ranges and estimated a deeper per-share 2021 loss than beforehand anticipated, partially resulting from increased prices related to “preparing operations for growth during the recovery.”

Spirit’s shares fell greater than 8% on Thursday to $30.01, however its inventory value is nonetheless up almost 23% this 12 months, greater than most U.S. airways.

Late Thursday, the House Financial Services Committee superior a proposal for $14 billion in extra federal payroll assist for airways, which have already obtained $40 billion from the federal government throughout the pandemic to pay employees. The new spherical of help would require airways to maintain workers via Sept. 30 and could be an element of the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bundle.

Labor unions, American Airlines and United Airlines have supported one other spherical of help because the risk of new furloughs looms for as much as 27,000 workers when the present bundle runs out after March 31.

When requested whether or not he helps extra help though the airline is hiring, Christie stated: “Our industry needs to be fair in all cases, so there can’t be selective aid. To the extent that the government does decide to either extend the existing program or modify it, then I think it is to be expected that all airlines would be a beneficiary there.”

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