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One of Boeing’s biggest customers said it has paused pilot hiring in the spring due to Max 10 delivery delays.

United Airlines is pausing pilot hiring in the spring due to aircraft delivery delays from Boeing.

New-hire classes will be paused in May and June, and some may resume in July, according to a staff memo sent Thursday from vice president of flight operations Marc Champion and vice president of flight operations, planning and development Kirk Limacher. 

“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,” the two wrote in the memo seen by Skift. 

“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,” the memo said. 

CNBC was the first to report the news. 

United’s Frustrations Mount With Boeing

United is one of Boeing’s biggest customers and CEO Scott Kirby previously expressed his frustrations with the Max 10 delivery delays. 

“We’ve already started working on alternative plans,” Kirby said on CNBC in January. “I think this is the straw, the Max 9 groundings, probably the straw that broke the camel’s back for us. We’re gonna at least build a plan that doesn’t have the Max 10 in it.”

The carrier expected to receive an order of 80 Max 10s in 2024, according to its most recent 10-K. But due to certification delays, United isn’t expecting those orders to be fulfilled this year. 

United also ordered 43 Max 8s and 34 Max 9s for 2024, but only expected to receive 37 Max 8s and 19 Max 9s. Boeing is currently under investigation for its Max 9 after a door plug blew off an Alaska Airlines flight. The Federal Aviation Administration also halted the expansion of 737 Max production, capping it at 38 737 Maxes a month. 

Airlines Cool Down Pilot Hiring in 2024

United isn’t the only airline to slow pilot hiring in 2024. Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have both said they plan to hire fewer pilots in 2024 as the industry recovers from a post-pandemic pilot shortage. 

“Last year, we hired 2,300 pilots and this year, it will be roughly 1,300,” American CEO Robert Isom said at its investor day on March 4. “So that’s slowing down a little bit, but we have a considerable number of retirements. And so we will be hiring for the foreseeable future at levels like that.”

Southwest Airlines also recently announced it would slow hiring in 2024. A Southwest spokesperson told Skift that the carrier doesn’t plan to bring in new-hire classes after March, adding that Southwest will still bring in around 350 pilots this year.

Airlines initially sought to hire thousands of pilots as the industry suffered from a severe shortage. Small cities that depend on regional airlines were hit the hardest as larger airlines recruited those pilots, offering them better pay and career opportunities. 

Since the pandemic, pilots have also scored record contracts, with some receiving raises as high as 50%. 

Other airlines are also pausing pilot hiring to cut expenses. Spirit Airlines decided to halt pilot and flight attendant training as a way to cut costs because it is planning for slower growth in 2024. 


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Tags: american airlines, Boeing, boeing 737 max 10, boeing 737 max 8, boeing 737 max 9, delta air lines, southwest airlines, spirit airlines, united airlines

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