US airline operator United Airlines has agreed to buy a flight training academy in Arizona for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition of Westwind School of Aeronautics in Phoenix will make the company the only major US carrier to own and operate a flight academy.

The United Aviate Academy is an expansion of the company’s Aviate programme and aims to recruit and train aspiring aviators.

It will provide improved direction in recruiting and developing students who aspire to be pilots while offering greater opportunities to women and minorities.

The carrier is expecting to graduate around 300 students from the academy in its first year. The airline plans to recruit more than 10,000 pilots by 2029.

United Aviate managing director captain Bebe O’Neil said: “We have developed the Aviate programme in collaboration with the Air Line Pilots Association, International to have greater influence on the next generation of aviators at United.

“Launching our own academy provides us with the unique opportunity to not only ensure we maintain the ideal number of quality candidates within our pilot pipeline, but also play a significant role in recruiting, developing and welcoming those with diverse backgrounds to the United family.”

Besides the acquisition, United is partnering with financial institutions to offer ‘attractive financing terms’.

The airline is also considering launching a scholarship programme for women and minorities.

Launched last year, the United Aviate programme supports and coaches aspiring students to develop professional pilots.

Selected individuals receive a programme acceptance job offer with United.