Crain’s Headlines: United Buys Flight School to Tackle Pilot Shortage

United Airlines is taking an unusual step to deal with a worsening shortage of pilots: It’s buying a flight school.

The Chicago-based airline says it’s purchasing Westwind School of Aeronautics in Phoenix to tackle a talent pipeline problem that it will face for at least a decade, as boomer-age pilots retire en masse. United expects to have to hire 10,000 pilots by 2029.

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United expects to graduate 300 licensed pilots a year from the school.

In other Chicago-area business news:

Macy’s plans to close 125 of its least productive department stores over the next three years, a move that will affect almost a quarter of its current store count.

Bloomberg reports the retailer will slash 2,000 jobs in the process, or 9% of its workforce, as part of a restructuring that includes moving the company’s headquarters from Cincinnati to New York.

In Chicago, Macy’s took over what was once the old Marshall Field & Company chain in 2006. There’s no word yet on which stores will be affected in this latest round of closures.

And finally, the Illinois Restaurant Association is gearing up a legislative effort to rein in industry disruptors like Grubhub and DoorDash.

Association members are discussing a push to tighten city oversight on food delivery, including stricter ordinances on food handling and car cleanliness.

And in Springfield, the restaurateurs are discussing legislation emulating a landmark California law that forces gig-economy companies to treat their workers as employees, rather than contractors.

Those moves are likely to intensify an existing standoff between online delivery services like Grubhub and restaurant operators disgruntled over the way delivery services often cut into their margins.

Crain’s Headlines is a joint production between WTTW and Crain’s Chicago Business. It airs every Monday through Thursday on the WTTW News program “Chicago Tonight.” 

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