We had 111 American Airlines pilots who retired at the end of August. There may be a bunch more retiring at the end of September, which is Friday.

One senior Boeing 777 pilot told me this week that he expects this month’s retirements to be twice last month’s 111 departures. Everybody he’s flown with in recent days seems to be retiring, he said. A worker at his layover hotel said there were retirement parties every night for pilots who were working their last international trip.

If so, blame the continuing decline in the stock market and perhaps the concerns that American and parent AMR might eventually have to file for bankruptcy.

By their late 50s, most American pilots have accumulated a nice chunk of change in their B Plan, a defined contribution plan into which American puts an amount equal to 11 percent of a pilot’s gross income.

That plan is largely invested in equities. Its value changes as the stock market does. The stock market hasn’t done well lately.

In addition, the B Plan has an interesting feature that can protect pilots from recent declines in the stock market. The feature makes it more likely that pilots will retire when the market is sliding, as it is now.

A pilot age 60 and older can lock in the value of the B Plan shares backwards for 60 days. For example, if he or she retires on Sept. 30, the pilot can cash out based on the shares’ value 60 days earlier.

A pilot retiring earlier, i.e., before age 60, can lock in the value of the B Plan shares from 90 days earlier.

As of Thursday evening, the Dow has declined 11 percent since the end of June, the Nasdaq Composite is off 10 percent and the S&P 500 is down nearly 13 percent. They’re down almost that much since the end of July.

Let’s say a pilot had $2 million in the defined-contribution plan as of June 30. Assuming the shares dropped in value 10 percent since then, a pilot could retire early and avoid $200,000 in losses.

They’d have to work a few more years just to gross enough to replace the decline in B Plan value over the past two to three months if they didn’t retire.

The pilots also get a defined-benefit pension. Those would be at risk if AMR eventually had to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy papers.

Add it all up, and a bunch of senior American pilots may decide to jump.

In a Monday update to Allied Pilot Association members in the Los Angeles base, officials said the B plan value dropped 7.2 percent in August alone.

“Barring a significant recovery this week, this lower unit value — paired with the recent stock market results — make it likely that we will again see a large number of pilot retirements at the end of the month,” the pilots were told.

American has cut back its schedule this fall and cited several reasons, among them the large number of retirements. It said it would operate 0.5 percent less capacity in the fourth quarter than it had previously planned, with cuts primarily on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Where American has had two daily flights a week from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to Tokyo, it is cutting that back to only one flight on two days a week. Two of American’s three daily London flights from D/FW now utilize a Boeing 777; next month, only one of the three will be flown by a 777.

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