AP – Airlines expecting a hectic summer travel season are planning to hire thousands of new workers this year, lifting a job market that has been hit by layoffs in technology and turmoil in the banking industry.
United Airlines said it hired 7,000 new workers in the first four months of this year and plans to hit 15,000 new hires by year-end, matching the number it hired last year.
By 2026, United projects adding 50,000 workers to a workforce that was about 93,000 at the start of this year.
Airlines have been in a hiring frenzy since being caught understaffed when air travel bounced back from the depths of the pandemic more quickly than anticipated. Shortages of pilots and flight attendants contributed to a jump in the rates of cancelled and delayed flights last year.
The nation’s passenger airlines received USD54 billion in taxpayer money to keep people on the payroll through the pandemic, and they were prohibited from making layoffs, but they got around that prohibition by paying workers to quit or take early retirement.
Since bottoming out in November 2020, airline-industry jobs have jumped by over 117,000 – an increase of 32 per cent – to over 480,00 as of this February, the latest figures available from the Transportation Department. That is a five-per-cent increase over the pre-pandemic peak.
Some of the new hires at United will replace retiring employees. United executives said they plan to hire 2,300 pilots this year and expect nearly 500 to retire, after first giving a lower range of 250 to 300 retirements.