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American Airlines plans to hire 1,500 pilots

American Airlines aircraft sit on the tarmac at LaGuardia airport in New York, April 16, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
American Airlines aircraft sit on the tarmac at LaGuardia airport in New York, April 16, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

(Reuters) - American Airlines plans to hire 1,500 pilots over the next five years as it expands international flying and takes delivery of new planes, the carrier said on Monday.

The AMR Corp unit, which has been operating under Chapter 11 protection since late 2011 and is looking to emerge from bankruptcy by merging with US Airways Group Inc, said it will post open jobs October 1 and start training in winter.

The Fort Worth-based company said its plans call for hiring and training 40 to 50 pilots a month beginning this winter. The airline is also in the process of hiring and training 1,500 new flight attendants.

The hiring reflects operational needs, projected retirements and new Federal Aviation Administration rules requiring increased experience and rest for pilots, American Airlines said in a statement. The planned merger has no bearing on the hiring plans, a spokesman added.

"While this is welcome news for our pilot families, we continue to believe the core ingredient in creating pilot job security and hiring is in developing a network that can compete with Delta, United and Southwest by merging with US Airways," said Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association union that represents American's pilots.

AMR Chief Executive Officer Tom Horton said the carrier was still open to talks to settle the U.S. Justice Department lawsuit that seeks to block the merger with US Airways. A federal judge will hear the case without a jury in November and decide whether the merger can go forward.

Demand for pilots is rising. Earlier this month, United Continental Holdings said it would call back nearly 600 pilots currently on furlough. United, which has more than 12,000 pilots, added that no pilots would be on furlough following its recall.

American Airlines, which has renegotiated plane leases, cut management and frozen pension plans to lower costs in Chapter 11, also reported improved financial results on Monday for the month of August.

Revenue rose 7 percent in the month to $2.34 billion from August 2012. Net income was $71 million for the month, compared with a net loss of about $82 million a year ago. Excluding reorganization expenses and special items, August earnings were $165 million, up from $56 million last year.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Leslie Gevirtz)

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