United Airlines restarts pilot hiring as ticket sales rebound.
United Airlines announced that it will be hiring pilots again. This is the latest sign that the travel industry is recovering from the pandemic.
In a memo to pilots Thursday, Bryan Quigley, an airline operations manager, said United would initially hire the 300 or so pilots who either had a conditional job offer last year or whose start dates had been canceled due to the pandemic.
“With vaccination rates soaring and the demand for travel soaring, I am pleased to announce that United will resume the process of hiring pilots,” said Quigley.
Almost 1,000 United pilots have retired or volunteered since September. The number of pilots the airline needs depends on how quickly demand recovers.
The news comes amid growing signs that air traffic is recovering in a meaningful and lasting manner. According to the Transportation Security Administration, well over a million people have been examined at airport checkpoints every day for several weeks.
“We can see that light at the end of the tunnel,” said Scott Kirby, United’s chief executive, at a virtual aviation summit Wednesday. “The domestic demand for leisure time has recovered almost completely. It says something about the pent-up need to travel, the pent-up need to reconnect with people. “
On Wednesday, Delta Air Lines announced it would be selling mid-size seats for the first time in a year, citing widespread vaccinations. Denver-based Frontier Airlines began trading on the Nasdaq on Thursday, making it the last of the ten largest airlines in the country to go public.
“The time is now,” said Barry Biffle, President and CEO of Frontier, in an interview. “The vaccine is tapping the demand and you are seeing it everywhere. You see it in restaurants, you see it in hotels. “