Delta to hire 1,000 pilots during ‘accelerated’ recovery period

Delta plans to hire an additional 1,000 pilots by next summer during an "accelerated" recovery period for travel after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a company memo shared with FOX TV Stations. 

"The fact that we expect to record a profit in June – just 15 months after the sharpest decline in aviation history – is remarkable, and it’s a clear sign that Delta is leading the recovery. Another positive indicator is increased pilot hiring to welcome more than 1,000 pilots by next summer," the memo stated. 

The Atlanta-based airline expects domestic travel to return to pre-pandemic levels this month and as such will be needing more pilots to help keep up with demand. 

"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," the memo read. 

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A350 in flight over clouds.

RELATED: Delta says domestic travel demand recovered, hits pre-pandemic levels 

In May, Delta topped the list of J.D. Power’s 2021 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, an annual study that surveyed 2,309 passengers between August 2020 to March 2021 around the height of the coronavirus pandemic, polling consumers about their experience. 

While the airline industry lost more than $40 billion in revenue as passenger volume dropped 60% in 2020, passengers said they were actually more satisfied with service, the J.D. Power study said, noting that consumers were especially pleased with the elimination of fees associated with ticket changes and flexibility among flight crews. 

Southwest and Alaska Airlines ranked second and third, respectively. 

Meanwhile, airline bookings have been picking up since around February as the economy improves and as more Americans are getting vaccinated against COVID-19. 

RELATED: EU recommends countries begin lifting travel restrictions for Americans 

"Car and air travel each are showing growing strength this 4th of July holiday weekend because many states have reduced or eliminated COVID-19 restrictions," said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel. "We expect car travel to be the highest on record and air travel to be the third highest amount since AAA started tracking data in 2001." 

The U.S. Commerce Department said consumer spending increased in April, although not as much as in March, showing how consumers are driving a recovery from last year’s pandemic recession. 

The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this story.