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FAA to give flight attendants more rest between shifts

New rest rule announced for flight attendants
Flight attendants to get 10-hour break between shifts under new FAA rule 04:31

Federal aviation officials on Tuesday mandated more time off between flights for flight attendants.

The new rule takes effect in about 30 days and increases to 10 consecutive hours, from nine hours under previous rules, the required rest period between trips for flight attendants, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday in a statement.

"Flight attendants, like all essential transportation workers, work hard every day to keep the traveling public safe, and we owe them our full support," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in the statement. "This new rule will make it easier for flight attendants to do their jobs, which in turn will keep all of us safe in the air."

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Flight crew unions have pushed for the additional rest time, saying flight attendants wearied by the pandemic are tired and overworked after working shifts as long as 14 hours.

The FAA late last year opened public comment on the proposed regulatory shift that was first approved by Congress in 2018, but not implemented during the Trump administration.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, applauded the new FAA rule, saying it would make flying safer for more than 100,000 flight attendants and passengers. Flight attendants "need this rest more than ever in the most difficult time to work our jobs in the history of aviation," stated Nelson, whose union represents nearly 50,000 flight attendants at 19 airlines.

Airlines for America, which represents the country's biggest airlines, told CBS MoneyWatch that safety remains a top priority for the industry.

"Having rested and alert flight attendants who are prepared to carry out their responsibilities, including cabin safety and other duties, is critical to this goal. This is why we continue to support scientifically validated and data-driven countermeasures to prevent fatigue," the trade group said in an emailed statement.

The group last year said the rule could cost the industry $786 million over a decade for the 66% of U.S. of flight attendants its members employ. The FAA had estimated the rule could spur the industry to hire another 1,042 fight attendants at an annual cost of $118 million. 

The year has proved especially difficult for flight attendants amid an increased appetite for travel as pandemic restrictions and concerns eased, even as the airline industry is facing a shortage of pilots after many retired early or accepted buyouts.

Flight attendants at United and Southwest airlines last week staged protests at airports across the country to call attention to chaotic scheduling and other workplace woes

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