Chicago-based United Airlines is ordering 270 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft for its fleet, and the largest order in the airline’s history is the first step in an investment process that’s expected to add more than 25,000 new jobs, including as many as 3,000 in the Chicago area alone.
The announcement was made Tuesday by the airline as it looks to take advantage of massive increases in travel demand after a massive downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In all, the airline expects to add 25,000 new customer service agents, dispatchers, pilots, flight attendants and technicians . The airline hopes that the new jobs will help to drive more than $30 billion in traveler spending and contribute an estimated $50 billion to the U.S. economy by 2026.
The news comes as demand for air travel has skyrocketed by more than 300% from the same time last year.
“The scale of this announcement, this airplane order, is really big news in the transportation industry,” Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation expert at DePaul University, said. “United is feeling confident. It is going to spend a lot of money.”
The investment is also expected to pay dividends for Boeing, which is also based in Chicago. At least 200 of the jets ordered are from the 737 Max line, which has undergone a major redesign in the wake of two fatal crashes that occurred after the line was launched.
“We are truly humbled by United Airlines’ confidence in the people of Boeing, and the airplanes we design and build every day,” the company said in a statement.
The new investment is expected to bring up to 3,000 new jobs to the city of Chicago alone, according to the airline.
“Our United Next vision will revolutionize the experience of flying United as we accelerate our business to meet a resurgence in air travel,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “By adding and upgrading this many aircraft so quickly with our new signature interiors, we’ll combine friendly, helpful service with the best experience in the sky, all across our premier global network. At the same time, this move underscores the critical role United plays in fueling the broader U.S. economy – we expect the addition of these new aircraft will have a significant economic impact on the communities we serve in terms of job creation, traveler spending and commerce.”