Chicago (AP) — United Airlines said Thursday it plans to hire about 300 pilots. This is another sign that airlines are more confident that the recent increase in travel will continue.
The airline will start by hiring a pilot who received a conditional job or canceled a new employee’s class last year when the industry was hit by a coronavirus pandemic.
“We are pleased to share that United is resuming the pilot recruitment process, which was canceled last year, as vaccination rates are rising and travel demand is on the rise,” said Chicago-based United Flight Operations Officer. Brian Quigley, Senior Vice President, told employees.
Since September, nearly 1,000 United pilots have taken retirement or voluntary leave. Federal salary assistance to airlines has blocked the furlough. Quigley said the need for a new United pilot depends on the airline’s recovery from the pandemic.
The airline reports that bookings have increased in the last few weeks, and the government says at least one million travelers a day have passed airport checkpoints in the last three weeks. Still, US air travel has dropped by almost half since the same period in 2019.
United’s CEO Scott Kirby said this week that demand for domestic leisure travel has “almost completely recovered,” but important business and international travel remains in a serious downturn.
United’s recruitment plan was previously reported by CNBC.