The contraction of the air travel industry in 2020 has been followed by a steady rebuilding, and now United Airlines says it's planning for a major expansion at San Francisco International Airport and other hubs.

For anyone who's been contemplating a career as a flight attendant, gate agent, or pilot, next year might be your year to try to it. By the end of 2023, United says it plans to 2,200 new jobs at SFO, most of those flight attendants and pilots. And nationwide, the airline is planning to add 2,500 pilots and 4,000 flight attendants in total by the end of 2023.

The airline already added back 15,000 jobs in 2022, and says it will do the same next year. And its only hub gaining more jobs than SFO next year will be Chicago, with 2,600.

The expansion comes as United awaits delivery of 100 new Boeing 787 Dreamliners with the option to buy 100 more — which, according to a release, is "the largest widebody order by a U.S. carrier in commercial aviation history." The airline plans to replace 700 older planes over the course of the decade.

And with the new planes arriving, United is adding back routes as well, with a new nonstop to Rome coming in May, and a new nonstop to Brisbane.

"United emerged from the pandemic as the world’s leading global airline and the flag carrier of the United States," says United CEO Scott Kirby in a statement. "This order further solidifies our lead and creates new opportunities for our customers, employees and shareholders by accelerating our plan to connect more people to more places around the globe and deliver the best experience in the sky."

United currently has 68 of the new Dreamliners in service, and the airline says the new model is key to reducing operating costs, reducing fare prices, and increasing its fleet's fuel efficiency. The company notes the 787's "greatly improved maintenance and fuel burn economics" as keys to lowering costs overall.

United currently serves 32 international destinations out of SFO, though travel to China remains temporarily curtailed. Excluding Mainland China and Hong Kong, United says its capacity across the Pacific will exceed 2019 levels in 2023.

Photo: Arkin Si