United Airlines said Friday that it planned to start hiring 2,000 flight attendants as it increased the number of international flights and as domestic jets began to fly longer-range routes.
The new hires, the first by the UAL Corp. unit since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, come as the carrier prepares to emerge from bankruptcy protection early next year.
Some of the new hires would replace flight attendants who have retired or decided not to return from voluntary furloughs during the airline's nearly three years in Chapter 11. The carrier has 17,000 flight attendants, 15,000 of whom are active.
The new staffing is an exception in an industry that has cut thousands of jobs as traffic dropped after 9/11, then was battered by soaring jet fuel prices.
The hiring will begin Sunday in Chicago, near United headquarters, and in Washington, which serves as a departure point for many of the carrier's overseas flights, spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said Friday.