Southwest to Pay $2,500 Bonuses to Fill 30 Philadelphia Jobs

Southwest Airlines is offering signing bonuses of $2,500 as it tries to quickly fill 30 jobs at Philadelphia International Airport.

The bonuses, which were announced yesterday, are for new hires who work at least six months at the $8.75-an-hour jobs.

The airline said it would interview candidates for ramp and provisioning agents at informational meetings tomorrow and next week at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel at 4101 Island Ave.

Southwest is Philadelphia's second-largest carrier after US Airways. It started service here a year ago with 14 daily flights and will have 50 flights a day from Philadelphia by this summer.

Ramp agents load and unload passengers' bags and freight, and direct airplanes in and out of gates; provisioning agents stock planes with beverages and snacks.

The airline said it would pay the bonus to new employees in two installments: $1,250 after 30 days on the job, and an additional $1,250 after a six-month probationary period.

Southwest offered the bonuses as an incentive to generate immediate interest among potential applicants. "It's hard to get that many people quickly," Southwest spokeswoman Melanie Jones said.

The company made the same bonus offer in Baltimore, where it also needs more ramp and provisioning agents, and to current Southwest employees who work elsewhere and could use the bonus for moving expenses, Jones said.

The pay rate for the jobs rises to $10.18 an hour in the second year, and the positions include health benefits and a profit-sharing program.

The informational sessions for ramp agents are scheduled for tomorrow and again on May 25 at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sessions for provisioning agents are scheduled for Monday at 10:30 a.m. and May 27 at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.