United Airlines will prioritize women and people of color as it begins recruiting pilots to fill an impending wave of retirements over the next decade.
United Airlines To Restart Pilot Training Program, Focus On Diversity
In February 2020, United acquired its own flight school, called the United Aviate Academy. Then the pandemic hit and United shelved plans to train new pilots as thousands of its own pilots faced furloughs or work reductions.
But with airline demand surging, optimism over a wider rebound in the months ahead, and United’s pilot base one year older, United will begin accepting applications to its program again starting today.
The plan is to train 5,000 pilots by 2030, all of whom will be guaranteed a job at United. 100 students will be enrolled this year. United will also team up with JPMorgan Chase to offer scholarships to “thousands of students” plus offer financial aid packages through Sallie Mae. United has pledged $1.2 million for scholarships and Chase has pledged to match.
An important component of the program: half the students will be women or people of color. As United CEO Scott Kirby explained:
“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. 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 will ask the following organizations to make recommendations and help it choose scholarship recipients:
- Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals
- Sisters of the Skies
- Latino Pilots Association
- Professional Asian Pilots Association
Candidates that go through the program become pilots within two months, begin by flying for United Express carriers, and eventually transition to United mainline.
United Airlines will seek to diversify its flight decks by offering preference to female candidates and those of color. More broadly, it seeks to train and hire 5,000 pilots over the next decade.