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United to Slow Pilot Hiring, Blames Boeing Delivery Delays

The airline says it will pause pilot new hire classes in May and June.

A United 737-800 in San Francisco (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

United is the latest U.S. carrier to slow pilot hiring this year. According to a CNBC report, the Chicago-based carrier will pause new hire classes in May and June, citing delivery delays at Boeing.

The airline expects to receive 21 fewer 737 MAX aircraft this year than its original forecast. Manufacturing delays continue to plague Boeing following January’s door plug incident on an Alaska 737 MAX 9.

In 2024, United had also expected to receive 80 737 MAX 10 aircraft from Boeing, but certification timelines continue to slip. The carrier recently removed the largest variant of the 737 MAX from its fleet plan. 

“We wanted to let you know that United will slow the pace of pilot hires this year due to continued new aircraft certification and manufacturing delays at Boeing,” said United’s Marc Champion, Vice President of Flight Operations,and Kirk Limacher, Vice President of Flight Ops Planning and Development, in an internal memo viewed by CNBC.

The memo continued to say that the airline expects to resume new hire classes in July.

According to data from FAPA.aero, United hired 2,349 pilots in 2023, the second most of any major U.S. carrier. Across the board, pilot hiring at major U.S. airlines was down roughly 6% between 2022 and 2023.

So far this year, the airline said it hired 450 pilots with plans for up to 800 by the end of April.

“As you know, United has hundreds of new planes on order and while we remain on a path to be the fastest growing airline in the industry, we just won’t grow as fast as we thought we would in 2024 due to continued delays at Boeing,” Champion and Limacher added in the Thursday memo.

Following Other Airlines

United isn’t the only U.S. carrier to slow pilot hiring this year. Delta announced it would be slashing its hiring plans in half in 2024.

Last week, Southwest said it would stop pilot hiring through the end of this year. Ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit stopped hiring pilots in late 2023.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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