June 29 (UPI) -- Amid sharp rises in air travel as the industry gets closer to prepandemic levels, United Airlines on Tuesday announced the largest aircraft order in its history -- adding close to 300 new planes to its fleet.
United said it's ordered 270 planes -- 200 Boeing 737 Max 10s and 70 Airbus A321neos. Both are the largest variants of their respective models.
The carrier said the new planes will lead to a 75% increase in premium seats on North American routes and a 30% increase in available seats on domestic flights.
The airline also said it expects to hire about 25,000 employees to work on the new planes, including pilots and flight attendants. Many carriers worldwide were forced to cut back staff due to the impact of COVID-19 on the air travel industry.
"This move underscores the critical role United plays in fueling the broader U.S. economy -- we expect the addition of these new aircraft will have a significant economic impact on the communities we serve in terms of job creation, traveler spending and commerce," United CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement.
The airline said it will add an average of three new planes a day in 2023 and plans to introduce as many as 350 more in the near future.
United, the world's third-largest airline by fleet size, recently returned its 737 Max planes to the air after they were grounded worldwide for about two years. Boeing fixed a problem with the automated flight system that was responsible for two crashes overseas in 2018 and 2019 that killed almost 340 people.
Earlier this month, United announced that it plans to acquire more than a dozen supersonic passenger planes.
According to Airports Council International, a global airport trade group, passenger traffic in North America last year dropped 62% compared to prepandemic levels.