United Airlines tells staff it’s hiring hundreds of pilots next month

United Airlines tells staff it's hiring hundreds of pilots next month

April 5, 2021: -On Thursday, United Airlines told staff it would soon hire hundreds of pilots, a process the airline was forced to halt when the pandemic devastated travel demand in the previous year, according to an internal email reviewed by CNBC.

The Chicago-based airline is the first to announce that it will start pilot hiring, the latest sign it’s preparing for a recovery. The airline will hire about 300 pilots with conditional job offers or training scheduled last year before hiring.

For the past year, airlines, including United, have urged thousands of workers to take buyouts, early retirement packages, and leaves of absence as they raced to cut costs during the pandemic.

Congress included the third round of federal payroll support for airlines that prohibits job cuts through September 30 as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package last month.

U.S. airlines lost $35 billion last year together but expected a steady rise in bookings as more of the public is vaccinated and be comfortable getting on planes.

“With vaccination rates rising and demand traveling increasing, I’m excited to share that United will resume the pilot hiring process that was halted,” Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president of flight operations, wrote on Thursday, viewed by CNBC.

Air travel demand has recently increased. The Transportation Security Administration screened an average of 1.2 million people each day in the previous month, up 15% from a year ago when the pandemic and stay-at-home orders halted almost all travel.

“I’m especially pleased that we were able to protect our people during this disaster,” said Todd Insler, chairman of the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association. He said if the company furloughed, it would have been much harder to capitalize on the travel rebound. 

Last month, Spirit Airlines said it resumed hiring pilots and flight attendants, while other budget carriers Allegiant Air and Sun Country Airlines will also hire this year.

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