Delta will hire 1,000 pilots by next summer as travel continues to skyrocket

Delta airplane
A Delta Air Lines passenger jet taxis on the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport in the New York City borough of Queens on September 7, 2016. Robert Alexander/Getty Images
  • Delta wants to hire over 1,000 pilots by next summer, according to an internal memo seen by Insider.
  • Travel is beginning to rebound fast, and travel spending is now nearing pre-pandemic levels.
  • Airlines like United, American, and Cathay Pacific also plan to hire more pilots.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Delta will hire over 1,000 pilots by next summer as travel continues to rebound fast, according to an internal memo seen by Insider.

“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, Delta’s chief of operations, wrote in the memo, which was sent to Delta’s flight operation employees.

Travel is rebounding fast as Delta looks to scale up its number of pilots. The airline predicts leisure domestic travel will hit pre-COVID-19 volumes this month, according to the memo. And now, travel spending is now nearing pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, Steve Squeri, American Express CEO, told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money” on June 14. “When we look at our travel numbers, travel bookings in May were 95% of where they were in May of 2019,” said Squeri, who noted that this was without international travel.

About 2.1 million people traveled on June 20, which is the highest number of travelers since early March 2020, according to data from the TSA. To compare, the TSA screened nearly 2.72 million people on June 20, 2019.

“The fact that we expect to record a profit in June – just 15 months after the sharpest decline in aviation history – is remarkable,” Laughter wrote in the memo. This is a stark rebound from the end of 2020 when the airline had to cancel 325 flights after Thanksgiving and before Christmas due to bad weather and a lack of available pilots.

Airlines like United and Cathay Pacific are also looking to hire more pilots. On Monday, American Airlines announced it would be slashing about 80 flights per day for the remainder of June due to a shortage of staff and maintenance problems, but has plans to hire about 300 pilots by the end of this year, the airline told Reuters.