SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — American Airlines announced that over 400 San Francisco-based flight attendants would be forced to transfer to new locations after it closes its Bay Area base, according to a union representative for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

The Flight Attendant base at SFO will be closing on January 21, 2023. The base currently serves as a home base for flight attendants from Sacramento, San Jose and the San Francisco area. This closure will displace around 403 locally-based flight attendants, forcing them to choose a new home base or retire. The SFO APFA Base President Tim Schwartz says that the flight attendants will be able to bid for nearby bases except LAX, which the company says is already overstaffed.

Schwartz says that he has been working at the San Francisco base since 1998. He says he has seen the airline business ebb and flow over the years, including economic slowdowns in 2008 and 2020.

“As we’ve gone through the roller coaster of financial issues that have plagued airlines, the market just hasn’t returned to what the company wants. Then COVID hit,” Schwartz said.

One problem that many of the flight attendants will be facing is uprooting their lives entirely.

“I would probably say the top 250 out of the 400 are rooted and grounded here in the Bay Area. They own homes here, they have kids that have been born and raised here,” Schwartz said.  

He also mentioned the challenges that could come up for some of the flight attendants who now need to be based somewhere that isn’t near their home.

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“When you have to travel to a new base, the company does not provide a seat on the plane. Flight attendants would have to travel on standby with everyone else who wants to travel that day,” Schwartz tells KRON4.  

As a union representative, Schwartz has been a part of efforts to maintain jobs in our area. He says the union has suggested that American Airlines turn the SFO base into a satellite base for Los Angeles.

Schwartz says that for many of the flight attendants who will be impacted by this closure, it feels like a kick in the teeth. “They feel after 30 years of dedicated service to the company they feel let down,” he told KRON4.

Schwartz expects more information will be made available in the coming days, including exactly which bases flight attendants will be eligible to transfer to. For now, he’s also considering new plans for his own future.

“It’s been a great ride, but for myself I look at where am I gonna go? Do I commute for a while? Too young to retire, I’m only 50. So do I give up my home? Do I rent my home out?” he said.

American Airlines provided a comment on the closure to KRON4.

Over the past few years, American’s network and schedule have evolved based on a number of factors, including our size, shifting customer demand and changes to our fleet. As we look at the future of our network, we expect that San Francisco will maintain the same level of flying it does today, but there are no plans to grow San Francisco and no future flying prospects based on our current network strategy. Because of that, we’ve made the difficult decision to close our San Francisco flight attendant base. Importantly, any SFO-based flight attendant who wants one will have a spot at another base. This isn’t a decision we take lightly and we’re committed to working with the SFO team to ensure a smooth transition to another base if they choose to continue flying.”

American Airlines

For now Schwartz says that he and his colleagues will have to celebrate the memories that they have made here in the Bay Area. “It’s one of those things that most everyone who wanted to be in SF really wanted to be here. We’re a happy little base, we all took care of each other,” he said.