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Demand for Pilots Returns

Delta Air Lines had to cancel about 75 flights yesterday (Easter Sunday) and packed remaining flights by suspending its seat-blocking policy a month early due to a pilot shortage.  United Airlines said it plans to hire hundreds of pilots in coming months as it gears up for a return to more normal passenger traffic over the next year.

United told employees in an internal memo that the first to be contacted will be about 300 pilots who had conditional job offers or training that was supposed to start last year before the virus put a stop to all hiring.

“With vaccination rates increasing and travel demand trending upwards, I’m excited to share that United will resume the pilot hiring process that was halted last year,” Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president of flight operations, said in the note.

Delta, United and many other commercial airlines encouraged thousands of pilots to retire or take buyouts as they scrambled to conserve cash during a year in which a global pandemic decimated the airline industry.  Delta also had problems staffing flights at Thanksgiving and Christmas.