United Airlines said June 28 it is looking at as many as 5,000 new hires at Newark Liberty International Airport through 2026 as it bets on a post-pandemic surge in air travel.
The 5,000 jobs at Newark – the major East Coast hub for the Chicago-based airline giant – are part of a 25,000-person hiring initiative at six major airports, and a spending blitz that entails the purchase of 270 new aircraft.
The new fleet will entail 200 Boeing Max jets and 70 Airbus 32oneos–the airlines largest single purchase ever made, United said in a June 28 announcement.
A number of those airplanes will replace the aging, single-jet aircraft currently in United’s fleet. With the larger planes, United also said it would be able to boost ridership by as much as 30% in order to gain an edge over competitors.
United Airlines Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby said the purchases are part of the airliner’s efforts to “meet a resurgence in air travel” as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
The acquisition of these new planes would entail the addition of 25,000 flight attendants, pilots, mechanics and other personnel to service the new aircraft.
“This is exactly what we planned for when we reached our industry-leading pandemic recovery agreement last year and kept United pilots on the property, trained and ready to take advantage of the rapid recovery in passenger demand,” reads a prepared statement from Todd Insler, who chairs United’s chapter of the Airline Pilots Association, and serves as a flight captain. “With the strength of our network, fleet, and pilot compensation, we are sure United will remain the destination of choice for the most highly qualified airline pilots.”
Roughly 22,000 jobs were cut by the airline last year during the pandemic, which decimated air travel amid widespread COVID-19 business closures and bans on non-essential travel.
The airline is currently looking at terminating 1,200 catering and other service staff and instead getting that work done through an outside contracting company.
Those plans have drawn the ire of labor rights groups and members of Congress, unhappy that United would consider any such plan after receiving $7.7 billion of federal COVID-relief aid to avoid lay-offs and major cuts.