Delta Air Lines, the world's second-largest carrier, received 22,000 applications for about 300 flight attendant jobs in the first week after posting the positions outside the company.
The applications arrived at a rate of two per minute, Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson told workers in a weekly recorded message. Applicants will be interviewed in January and those hired will begin flying in June, for the peak travel season.
"We're hunting for foreign-language speakers as we continue to expand to all points around the globe," Anderson said. "We are experiencing a phenomenal response to the job posting."
Delta's applicant rush reflects the demand for jobs amid a 7.9 per cent U.S. unemployment rate and the interest in an industry where flight privileges are a prized employee benefit. The Atlanta-based carrier received 100,000 applications for 1000 jobs when it last hired flight attendants in October 2010.
While Anderson put the number of positions in the latest round of hiring at about 300, Betsy Talton, a spokeswoman, said it could reach 400. As many as 30 per cent will speak languages including Japanese, Hindi, Mandarin and Portuguese, she said.
Delta has said it plans to develop Seattle into a US West Coast gateway for flights to Asia, adding service to Tokyo's Haneda airport and to Shanghai. In October, the Atlanta-based airline said it would add flights between Paris and 11 US cities in 2013.
US Airways attracted 14,000 applicants when it hired 420 attendants in December of that year.
US passenger airlines employed 384,310 workers in October, down 1.3 per cent from a year earlier, the US Transportation Department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics said in a report today. The total for October, the latest month for which government statistics are available, was the lowest since May 2011, the agency said.
Five so-called network airlines that include Delta and United Continental employ two-thirds of the total workers. They reported 1.4 per cent fewer full-time equivalent employees in October from a year earlier.
Low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways reported a 1.6 per cent increase, BTS said.