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AA pilots dodge layoffs with early retirements, military leave

American Airlines will not be laying off any pilots despite its downsizing this fall, due to a jump in early retirements and pilots taking military leave.

The Fort Worth-based airline had previously estimated it would lay off about 200 pilots when it shrinks its schedule by 8 percent during the fourth quarter of the year.

American has been bringing back furloughed pilots for months to offset retirements, typically recalling around 30 pilots a month. But recalls were canceled in June, July and August, according to airline officials.

"I am personally and professionally delighted to share this news with you," Mark Hettermann, the airline's chief pilot, said in a memo to pilots Thursday.

The airline estimates it will cut about 6,800 jobs as it downsizes. Many layoffs, however, have been avoided through early retirement programs.

The airline plans to eliminate about 900 flight attendant jobs, for example, but won't have to lay off any employees.

And nearly 500 workers at American's maintenance bases have requested early retirement packages.