United Airlines plans to start hiring 2,000 flight attendants as it moves to staff increased numbers of international flights and use jets that fly domestic routes more hours, the airline said on Friday.

The new hires, the UAL Corp. (UALAQ) unit's first since the September 11, 2001, attacks, come as the No. 2 U.S. airline prepares to emerge from bankruptcy early next year.

The hiring will begin on Sunday in Chicago, where United is based, and in Washington, which serves as a departure point for many of United's flights overseas, airline spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said.

She said some of the new hires would replace flight attendants who have retired or decided not to return from voluntary furloughs during the airline's nearly three years in bankruptcy.

Training for the new jobs will begin in January, the airline said.

United has used its time in bankruptcy to slash wages and pensions for employees, including flight attendants, moves that have led to a dramatically higher attrition rate, said Sara Dela Cruz, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants.