United to Recruit More Pilots

The airline will begin to hire new pilots for the first time since 2001.
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Suddenly

United

(UAUA)

is churning out the good news.

The second-largest carrier says that its May unit revenue apparently led the industry, that its second-quarter revenue will be better than many competitors' and that soon it will begin to hire new pilots for the first time since 2001.

United said Tuesday it will hire up to 100 new pilots later this year to accommodate a flight schedule that includes increased international flying. New pilots could begin flying in December. Hiring will follow the completion of a recall of furloughed pilots, with the exact number to depend on potential changes in the mandatory pilot retirement age.

United shares led a broad airline industry increase Tuesday, rising 7% to $37.82. The Amex Airline Index rose 2% to 49.97. Shares of

US Airways

(LCC)

also rose, more than 6% to $29, following an upgrade by UBS. Despite today's jump, United shares remain down some 15% for the year.

United said its second-quarter mainline passenger revenue per available seat mile will increase between 2.75% and 3.25%, in a filing with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

. Consolidated second-quarter PRASM is expected to increase between 2% and 3%.

"Our revenue expectations are better than a number of competitors, who have already given indications into their second-quarter numbers," CEO Glenn Tilton said Tuesday, in a message to employees. "We also expect to be on track with our cost expectations for the quarter, with costs flat to up 0.5% -- better than the 1% we had previously expected."

In the SEC filing, United said that "yields continue to be strong internationally, but under pressure domestically as industry capacity grows and domestic industry revenue slows."

Last week, CFO Jake Brace said May unit revenue rose 4%, "which we think is pretty decent versus some of the (comparisons)." He said the improvement probably reflects increased international revenue and noted that the carrier further reduced domestic flying in June.