Delta aims to hire 1,000 pilots as part of pandemic recovery

Delta aims to hire 1,000 pilots as part of pandemic recovery
© Greg Nash

Delta is planning to hire 1,000 pilots by next summer as part of its effort to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a memo seen by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Delta operations chief John Laughter said this hiring initiative was a “positive indicator," adding that the airline must "foster a strong pipeline of pilot candidates in order to support our future demand and manage pilot attrition.”

Delta had let go of over 1,800 pilots last year through early retirement packages and placed another 1,700 pilots on inactive status, the Journal-Constitution notes. The company announced in March that it planned on having all pilots currently placed on inactive status back to work by this fall.

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In his memo, Laughter added that Delta would be overhauling its hiring practices “to create more inclusive pathways to a pilot career while maintaining the highest standards from our applicants." The Journal-Constitution reports that Delta is working with schools to develop pilot career paths.

Delta, like many major airlines, is currently dealing with a staffing shortage. In May, the airline sought out volunteers to work at one of its loyalty lounges after failing to find enough staffers. Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, warned in an interview aired on Sunday that the U.S. could be facing a pilot shortage.

American Airlines said on Sunday that it would cancelling hundreds of flight through July partly due to labor shortages. Company spokesperson Stacey Day told The Hill that "unprecedented weather" was also behind the widespread cancellations.

"That, combined with the labor shortages some of our vendors are contending with and the incredibly quick ramp up of customer demand, has led us to build in additional resilience and certainty to our operation by adjusting a fraction of our scheduled flying through mid-July," she said.