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United Airlines to open flight school as travel picks back up

The carrier said it plans to open up its flight schedule even more in May

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Earlier this month, United Airlines announced plans to hire hundreds of pilots to handle an expected increase in domestic travel. Now, the carrier says it will open up an entire flight school with the aim of training and hiring thousands of pilots by 2030.

In a press release, the company said it also has a diversity goal tied to the flight school: It wants half of all students to be women or “people of color.” It will also be providing financing options to students who may have difficulty paying for enrollment in the school. 

"Over the next decade, United will train 5,000 pilots who will be guaranteed a job with United, after they complete the requirements of the Aviate program – and our plan is for half of them to be women and people of color," said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby. "We're excited that JPMorgan Chase has agreed to support our work to diversify our pilot ranks and create new opportunities for thousands of women and people of color who want to pursue a career in aviation."

United to bring back more flights next month

United became the first airline to own and operate its own flight school back in February 2020, but plans for the United Aviate Academy were put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with air traffic increasing in recent weeks, company officials say they want to open up travel options and begin the long trek back to “normal.” 

“Internationally, in May United will fly more than 100% of its pre-pandemic schedule to Latin America compared to what it operated in 2019, including more flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America,” the company stated. “The airline also plans to resume flights between Chicago and Tokyo Haneda, resume passenger flights between New York/Newark and Milan and Rome, and restart service between Chicago and Amsterdam.

“In total, United plans to operate 52% of its overall schedule compared to May 2019, whereas in May 2020 United operated 14% of its overall schedule compared to May 2019.”

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