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Delta to Resume Hiring Pilots in June as Travel Demand Recovers

George Frey | Bloomberg | Getty Images
  • Delta joins United, American and Spirit by announcing plans to resume pilot hiring this year.
  • Airlines are preparing for an increase in travel demand and dozens of pilot retirements in the coming years.
  • Carriers are shifting their attention to a travel recovery after scrambling to reduce head count at the height of the Covid pandemic last year.

Delta Air Lines said Wednesday it will resume hiring new pilots, following other carriers in preparing for future staffing as travel demand rebounds.

The Atlanta-based carrier will start by adding 75 pilots who have conditional job offers in June through August "and will likely increase the number of new pilots by September," John Laughter, Delta's senior vice president and chief of operations, wrote in a staff memo, which was seen by CNBC.

United Airlines, American Airlines, Spirit Airlines and JetBlue Airways have resumed hiring pilots or plan to this year.

Airlines extended job offers to hundreds of pilots last year but the the Covid-19 pandemic halted their training. Carriers then offered early retirement and temporary partially paid leave to pilots and other employees to reduce head count as travel demand plunged.

Now carriers are aiming to add new pilots as hundreds of their current aviators approach the federally mandated retirement age of 65.

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