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United Air Buys Flight School to Meet Rising Demand for Pilots

  • Training facility will help improve aviator quality, quantity
  • Carrier plans for 300 graduates in 2021, growing to 500 a year
     
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

United Airlines Holdings Inc. is purchasing a flight-training school to help increase the supply of future pilots and is exploring ways to boost financing programs to help pay for aviators’ education.

The agreement to buy Westwind School of Aeronautics in Phoenix is designed to churn out pilots for United Express regional carriers, which have struggled to fill jobs known for demanding schedules and entry-level pay. About 56% of United’s daily departures are flown by the regional airlines, which include ExpressJet Airlines, SkyWest Inc. and Mesa Air Group Inc.