CHICAGO – United Airlines began accepting applications for its new flight school on Tuesday and pledged to focus on diversity in its efforts to train 5,000 new pilots by 2030.
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In one Press release, the Chicago-based airline said at least half of the new interns would be women and people of color.
Currently, around 7% of United’s pilots are women and 13% are people of color, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In February 2020, United announced it had purchased the Phoenix-based Westwind School of Aeronautics and renamed it Aviate Academy, Fox News reported. However, hiring has been cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
United said nearly 1,000 pilots had left the company since September, according to the Tribune. Last August, American Airlines said 1,200 pilots had left, while unions said 1,806 Delta Air Lines pilots and more than 500 Southwest Airlines pilots had entered into early retirement agreements, the newspaper reported.
“Over the next decade, United will train 5,000 pilots who will be guaranteed employment with United once they meet the requirements of the Aviate program – and we expect half of them to be women and people of color, ”United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said in a Press release. “We are delighted that JPMorgan Chase has agreed to support our work to diversify our ranks of pilots and create new opportunities for thousands of women and people of color who wish to pursue a career in aviation.”
As more people are vaccinated and COVID-19 restrictions ease, the demand for travel increases again, The Wall Street Journal reported. United said last week it would resume hiring pilots it cut off last year, starting with 300 pilots who had job postings and training plans for new hires delayed by the pandemic, the newspaper reported. Southwest Airlines said on Monday it recalled more than 200 pilots who had agreed to take extended leave as a cost-cutting measure, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“We don’t think (the pandemic) has had an impact on our hiring prospects,” said Mary Ann Schaffer, United chief pilot at Tribune. “If anything, it will increase the number of people we may need to hire in the future, especially since air travel seems to be rebounding now.”
United Aviate Academy students can expect to graduate from the one-year program with a commercial pilot’s license and the experience necessary to begin working as a flight instructor, the Tribune reported. Moving from academia to a job at United is expected to take around five years, the airline said.
United plans to work with the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, Sisters of the Skies, the Latino Pilots Association and the Professional Asian Pilots Association to recruit more diverse candidates, the airline said in its Press release. United and JPMorgan Chase have each pledged $ 1.2 million in scholarships this year, and loans will be available.
Year program will cost around $ 100,000, the airline said in its Release.