Delta plans to hire more than 1,000 pilots

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Delta Air Lines told staff on Monday that it expects to hire more than 1,000 pilots by next summer, the latest move by an airline to cater to a rebound in travel demand.

Delta in April said it would resume hiring midyear as bookings began to recover from the coronavirus pandemic slump, starting with about 75 pilots from June through August.

“This is exciting news both for the pilots looking to join Delta and those of you already on the seniority list because it means career progression opportunities as we continue our recovery, account for scheduled pilot retirements and position for network expansion,” John Laughter, head of operations, said in a memo seen by CNBC.

The carrier is planning for a continued recovery in air travel and to avoid staffing problems. Delta canceled hundreds of flights over Thanksgiving and Christmas because it didn’t have enough pilots ready to fly.

Over the weekend, American Airlines canceled more than 300 flights due to staffing shortages and other issues and said it planned to trim its schedule through mid-July by about 1% to avoid straining its operations.WATCH NOWVIDEO02:00Cramer on American Airline’s trimming flights amid labor shortages

Delta told pilots on Monday that it would add 13 crew schedulers and a supervisor to answer pilot calls and questions.

American, United Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and other carriers have restarted or plan to resume pilot hiring this year. The start of the pandemic halted hiring plans last year when airlines encouraged thousands of employees to take buyouts, leaves of absence, or other voluntary options.

Congress approved $54 billion in federal aid for airlines in exchange for not involuntarily furloughing employees, funds airlines said would help them stay staffed for an eventual recovery in travel.

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