United Airlines said it will call back almost 600 pilots who were furloughed during a time when fuel prices spiked and the Great Recession forced the airline to shrink.
Training for the returning pilots begins next month and will be completed by the end of the year, the airline said.
The returning pilots are the last of 1,437 United pilots furloughed in 2008 and 2009, according to the Air Line Pilots Association. United has about 12,000 pilots.
The recall comes as demand for pilots at the big airlines is finally beginning to recover after a decade of airline bankruptcies, economic disruption, and changing retirement rules that kept senior pilots flying longer instead of retiring.
In 2007, the U.S. raised the mandatory retirement age to 65, from 60. That means that in late 2012 pilots who had stuck around for those extra five years began retiring, creating demand for new aviators to replace them.
In addition, pilots will require more time off between flights under new federal rules that take effect next year, which creates a need for more pilots.
Delta Air Lines Inc. has said it wants to hire 300 pilots starting in November. American Airlines has offered recalls to all of its furloughed pilots, though some have exercised an option to defer their return.
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