DENVER — As summer travel ramps up at Denver International Airport, many airlines are dealing with increased travel demand. But they're also dealing with staffing shortages at the same time.
United Airlines is going to extra mile to meet the surge in travel while keeping employees and passengers comfortable and cool in the summer heat.
"Travel is coming back, our customers are coming back, and they're excited about getting back on aircrafts once again,” United Airlines Denver Hub Vice President Matt Miller said.
DIA is United’s fastest-growing hub. The company is already back to over 90% of its pre-COVID schedule as many travelers get back into the air after the pandemic.
Miller said recovery has been the company’s primary focus.
"We wanted to make sure that we were able to bounce back and have our flights, our employees, our aircrafts ready to go when customers were ready to travel,” Miller said.
More than 450 United flights are leaving DIA daily. Keeping up with them isn’t as easy as it looks, especially with more planes in the sky and fewer employees, which many airlines are dealing with.
To meet that demand, United is hiring 400 employees across the board. They also just added more than 250 aircrafts to their fleet. They're also planning to hire 3,000 more employees with hopes to bring their total to 9,000 over the next few years.
What’s also challenging is working in the Colorado heat during one of the busiest times of the year.
"It's a hot one today,” said Managing Director of Airport Ramp Operations Luke David.
On hot days, crew members are often reminding passengers to lower their shades before they get off the plane to keep it cool.
"But in order to do that we have to make sure that our employees stay cool,” David said.
Airport operations hold the responsibility of making sure employees are comfortable and safe too.
“Heat exhaustion and stress from heat is a serious threat to us on the ramp. The heat just radiates,” David said.
This is why the United Hydration Cart is roaming around the gates to keep ramp agents hydrated.
“We have carts that go all over the airport with coolers of Gatorade, different flavors, and water just to keep our employees cooled off on these hot summer days,” David said.
Each cart is filled with four coolers with different flavors.
“When that cart pulls up you’ll see the employees just come straight to the cart to get their drink. And some of them will fill up their thermos full of Gatorade and we encourage it. We never limit how much Gatorade we give out or how much to drink because we really want them to stay hydrated,” David said.
United is working to provide its employees with the necessities to provide top-tier service to their passengers.
"For us to be able to be bouncing back after the crisis, you know growing our hub, adding jobs, it's just a really exciting time," Miller said.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Latest from 9NEWS