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Delta Air Lines Aims to Hire 1,000 New Pilots Next Year in Dramatic Turn of Fortune

Delta Air Lines Aims to Hire 1,000 New Pilots Next Year in Dramatic Turn of Fortune

Delta Air Lines told employees on Monday that it intends to hire as many as 1,000 new pilots by next summer as its recovery from the pandemic “continues to accelerate”. Leisure travel volumes have already recovered to pre-pandemic levels and the Atlanta-based airline expects international travel to continue to open up in the second half of the year.

The announcement marks a dramatic turn of fortune for Delta which last year said goodbye to 2,000 pilots who chose to take early retirement as the pandemic decimated travel demand.

“The fact that we expect to record a profit in June -just 15 months after the sharpest decline in aviation history – is remarkable, and it’s a clear sign that Delta is leading the recovery,” wrote Delta’s vice president of flight operations, John Laughter in an internal memo.

“This is exciting news both for the pilots looking to join Delta and those of you already on the seniority list because it means career progression opportunities as we continue our recovery, account for scheduled pilot retirements and position for network expansion.”

Delta has already been caught out by the quicker than expected recovery and the airline was forced to cancel hundreds of flights over Thanksgiving and Christmas because of staff shortages. The pilot shortage reared its ugly head again over Easter creating a third flight cancellation meltdown at the carrier.

Other airlines are in a similar position, with American Airlines announcing it would trim its planned schedule by 1 per cent in July because of a combination of issues including a lack of pilots. The carrier cancelled hundreds of flights over the weekend because of a range of problems including maintenance issues and “unprecedented weather”.

United’s chief executive Scott Kirby said in an interview on Sunday that the U.S. was facing a possible pilot shortage in the coming years, partly because the military wasn’t producing as many pilots.

Some of the Delta’s earlier staffing woes were caused by a training backlog which Laughter addressed in the latest memo, telling pilots that the training team was prepared to handle the upcoming volume of new pilots.

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