United Airlines Hiring Thousands To Handle Record Summer Air Travel

June 5, 2024
The new jobs are across the spectrum including ground, customer service ramp and airport support workers, technicians and maintenance personal, digital technology and corporate support employees.

Ahead of forecasts of a record breaking travel season, United Airlines announced Tuesday it will hire 15,000 new employees nationwide, with 1,500 new hires at its Newark Liberty Airport hub.

United officials made the announcement Tuesday at a press conference citing “our biggest Memorial Day weekend.” United averaged 535,000 passengers a day at the start of the Memorial Day travel period and these numbers are expected to increase 5% in June, July and August, said Toby Enquist, United’s chief operations officer.

United’s hiring spree comes as Airlines for America, a domestic airline industry association, forecasts U.S. airlines will carry 271 million passengers this summer travel season, a 6.3% increase from last summer. This would be a new record surpassing one set in summer 2023, when 255 million people flew U.S. airlines.

U.S. airlines are predicted to offer more flights this summer with more than 26,000 scheduled flights per day, a nearly 1,400 flight increase from last summer.

Port Authority officials said its commercial airports recorded the busiest first four months of the year ever, outpacing the same period in 2023. So far this year, the authority’s commercial airports, including Newark, have moved 44.6 million passengers, an increase of nearly 400,000 passengers compared to the first four months of 2023, officials said.

United’s planned hiring for it’s Newark Liberty Airport hub is the second largest after 2,300 new employees to be hired in Chicago, said Kate Gebo, United’s human relations and labor executive vice president.

“While some companies are laying off people, United Airlines continues to hire and is seeing increased interest,” she said. “We received 260,000 applications this year and 40,000 interns applied for 300 positions.”

The new jobs are across the spectrum including ground, customer service ramp and airport support workers, technicians and maintenance personal, digital technology and corporate support employees, Gebo said.

The airline is taking a slower approach to hiring new pilots and flight attendants, matching those jobs with the delivery of new aircraft which has slowed.

In March, United officials said it expected Boeing to deliver 63 aircraft to this year, instead of 165 jets it had previously been banking on, Flight Global reported. That prompted United to paused pilot and flight attendant hiring in May, Gebo said.

That came in the awake of a Jan. 5 incident where a mid-cabin door plug blew out on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 which p[prompted United to ground its fleet until aircraft could be inspected. On Jan. 6, the FAA grounded all 179 737 MAX 9 aircraft in the United States until they can be inspected and corrective action taken.

On June 29, 2021, United announced the purchase of 270 new aircraft, including 200 737 MAX airplanes at a media event at Newark Airport announcing its United Next strategy to meet post pandemic travel demand.

In Dec. 2022, United announced it exercised options to purchase 44 more Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for delivery between 2024 and 2026.

In the interim, United plans to lease 35 additional Airbus jets that are expected to be flying in 2026, Enquist said. Meanwhile until aircraft deliveries catch up to the schedule, some pilots had been asked to take voluntary leave with benefits, affecting less than 1% of the workforce, he said.

“Less airplanes need less people, but we are growing 6% to 10% through the quarter,” he said. “We’ve been in contact with Boeing and the supply chain is getting better. We’re not worried.”

The airline is back to hiring pilots again to be ready for passenger growth and aircraft delivery, he said.

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Larry Higgs may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on X @CommutingLarry

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