DENVER (CBS4) – United Airlines says their recent order of 270 new Airbus and Boeing aircraft will create more than 3,000 new jobs at their Denver hub, adding it will increase luxury travel for all customers to more destinations. United Airlines confirmed their plans to expand Denver’s largest hub through 2024, saying new jobs will include gate agents, pilots, flight attendants and more.

United CEO Scott Kirby told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas the purchase of 50 737 MAX 8’s, 150 MAX 10’s and 70 A321neos is the largest single order for a commercial airline in more than 10 years, and the largest in United’s history. Kirby said he believed the orders will have a ripple effect on the economies of the communities his airline services, especially their major hub at Denver International Airport.

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(credit: CBS)

“Business travel is going to come back 100%,” Kirby said.

Kirby said the new union jobs, including technicians, dispatchers, ramp workers, will also come with benefits and the opportunity for many to work their way to earning six figure incomes.

“These are really good paying jobs here. Whether you’re at the airport as a pilot, a flight attendant or work in management, these are careers that offer fantastic benefits both for families and the employees themselves,” said Matt Miller, the airline’s vice president for Airport Operations at Denver International Airport.

Including past orders still awaiting fulfillment, United plans to retire 300 of its current aircraft, replacing them with new larger planes. A total of 200 additional planes will be added to the fleet in order to expand United’s reach.

United hopes to have new aircraft delivered as soon as next year. United expects 40 new planes in 2022, nearly 140 new planes in 2023, and in 2024 they expect a new aircraft to enter their fleet every three days.

Current aircraft in use will be retrofitted to increase premium seating by 75%. Retrofitting will include seatback entertainment screens for all passengers, phone charging stations at each seat and enough overhead bin space for every passenger even on sold out flights. Seatback entertainment screens will offer 2.800 hours of entertainment and games which will allow passengers to compete against each other.

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Retrofitting the aircraft is expected to take multiple years to complete.

As part of the changes, which United has dubbed their “United Next” phase, the company plans to decrease their usage of smaller aircraft. Major hubs throughout the nation will primarily use narrow body aircraft which can seat hundreds of passengers, while smaller single-class aircraft will be used to transport customers from smaller markets to the larger hubs and connecting flights.

The average flight size on United is expected to increase by 30% in the coming years. Kirby said the changes are not United’s way of “densifying” their flights.

Kirby promised the addition of more narrow-body aircraft to the fleet will increase the Denver hub’s reach to more destinations, including adding more international destinations.

“Here at United we are proud that we have over 6,000 employees in the Denver area. With this aircraft order we will expand our route network here in Denver. It does match what our expanded gate investment is here in Denver. And, it does mean great unionized jobs here in Denver,” Miller said.

CBS4 recently reported on United’s new vaccine policy for employees. All new employees will be required to be vaccinated upon applying, while current pilots and flight attendants were given incentives to be vaccinated this summer.

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“This has been the most challenging time for our industry and United Airlines. But, we are really proud of the recovery we have seen particularly here in Denver. We are flying nearly 90% of our scheduled flights we did in 2019,” Miller said.

Dillon Thomas