United Airlines vows 50% of new pilots hired will be women or minorities to reflect passenger diversity

United Airlines is publically committing to upping their diversity by vowing to hire and train 5,000 pilots over the next decade with at least 50% being women or people of color.

The airline made the announcement on Tuesday via Twitter: “Our flight deck should reflect the diverse group of people onboard our planes every day. That’s why we plan for 50% of the 5,000 pilots we train in the next decade to be women or people of color.”

The announcement was met with heavy criticism by those that felt hiring new pilots on the basis of gender and race instead of talent and qualifications was not only a discriminatory policy but a dangerous one as well.

United Airlines attempted to clarify their plans in a follow-up statement: “All the highly qualified candidates we accept into the Academy, regardless of race or sex, will have met or exceeded the standards we set for admittance.” Some pointed out that those “standards” do not include flight experience. The airline will take recruits at the beginning of their flying careers and instruct them at its own academy.

(Video Credit: CBS This Morning)

The statement wasn’t acceptable to many out there. Some wanted to know why the airline hadn’t done this previously and indicated that it made it appear that it was discriminating in the past.

The race issue came up as some wondered if the airline would actively turn away qualified white men to accommodate their goals. Others asked if the new policy would also apply to flight attendants and flight mechanics.

The link on United’s website that allows a potential pilot to apply gets around to mentioning diversity about halfway through the process. According to United Airlines, approximately 20% of their pilots are currently comprised of women and minorities. The airline says it will be “partnering with diversity-led organizations” to realize an even higher percentage of diversity in its new ‘woke’ pilot program.

“Today, United has one of the most diverse pilot populations of any U.S. carrier with nearly 20% of our pilot group made up of women and people of color. We are working toward raising that number even higher by partnering with diversity-led organizations and continuing to remove gender and racial barriers. And we’re going one step further with plans for 50% of United Aviate Academy students being women and people of color to ensure our students reflect the diversity of the customers and communities we serve,” the site proclaims.

One of the ways that United Airlines plans to accomplish its “diverse” goal is through financial aid.

“Together United and JPMorgan Chase are offering $2.4 million in financial aid to the best and brightest talent, opening the door to a lucrative career for people who previously didn’t have the opportunity to pursue one. We’re in the business of breaking down barriers and we want the pilot population — some of the highest paying jobs in the industry — to be open to a much more diverse pool of candidates,” United’s website declares. Sallie Mae will also step in to provide financial assistance in the endeavor.

Flight training can cost a pilot as much as $100,000. United Airlines will offer $1.2 million in scholarship aid this year.

The airline will recruit from three historically Black schools: Delaware State University, Hampton University, and Elizabeth City State University.

United Airlines could potentially face lawsuits over their new diversity quota since it is against the law to discriminate on the basis of race or gender.

The airline was roasted on social media for their diversity quota plan:

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