Capt. Andy Fierro, Envoy Air Master Executive Council Communications Committee chairman, in the cockpit.
Last year marked a long yet promising year for the Envoy Air pilots. By the end of 2016, Envoy—a subsidiary of American Airlines Group—took delivery of 25 Embraer 175s, with 15 more slated for delivery by this summer. Aircraft previously parked in the desert were brought back into service, and airplanes previously sent to other carriers will begin returning early this year. In addition, the movement of aircraft off Envoy Air’s operating certificate has been delayed, affording the pilots increased flying, additional upgrade opportunities, and more new-hire positions.
The pilots’ flow-through agreement with American Airlines continues to march ahead. Since American resumed hiring in late 2013, more than 600 Envoy Air pilots have begun the next chapter of their careers at Envoy’s mainline partner. “As our most senior pilots move to American, our long-deserving first officers are upgrading in ever larger numbers,” said Capt. Sam Pool, the pilots’ Master Executive Council (MEC) chairman. “Envoy’s upgrade time has dropped from more than eight years to six and continues to fall toward industry averages. Being the largest wholly owned carrier for American and having a robust flow-through program will only continue to drive pilot upgrades and decrease flow-through time.”
By far, 2016’s biggest nonbargaining cycle contract gain was compensation. “Earlier in the year, American management restored profit sharing, giving our pilots an additional 5 percent of earnings when American shows a profit,” noted Pool. “Moreover, the Envoy MEC and committee volunteers worked tirelessly to secure substantial compensation increases and bonuses for first officers. In doing so, they were able to gain financial improvements for captains as well.” Today, a new-hire pilot at Envoy Air can expect to earn more than $50,000 per year, a 46 percent jump over first-year earnings just a year ago.
“By combining our industry-leading flow through, enhanced pilot compensation, and the quality-of-life improvements our MEC continues to advocate for, I believe new hires will find working for Envoy the best possible career choice,” said Pool.
While 2016 saw monumental gains, it wasn’t without its challenges. “Arguably, the single-most important aspect of a pilot’s job is quality of life,” remarked Pool. “Unfortunately, the past 12 months have seen a degradation in time off and an increase in unplanned junior manning and extension events. We continue to proactively seek mutually beneficial solutions with management; but until those solutions are achieved, our quality of life isn’t as good as I know it can be.”
As a result, the pilots’ Scheduling and Negotiating Committees, along with MEC leaders, continue to push for improvements through constant dialogue with management from both Envoy and American Airlines Group.
“We remain focused on continually improving the schedules and quality of life for our pilots, both existing and future,” Pool acknowledged. “With economic issues now in place, these improvements are at the forefront of everything we do.”
Envoy pilots are hopeful that their darkest days are behind them. “This year holds promise for our pilots as we continue to flow through to American and upgrade and the company hires at rates not seen in nearly 10 years,” said Pool. American has indicated its hiring needs will increase in the next 12 months—affording even more opportunity for Envoy and its pilots. Envoy’s New York LaGuardia domicile will reopen in the first part of the year, and pilot leaders continue to look for additional ways to contribute to American’s success as the ERJ 175 fleet continues to grow, the ERJ 145 and CRJ operations are strengthened, and the pilots’ industry-leading performance holds steady.
Whatever the challenge, Envoy pilots remain ready to handle tomorrow’s triumphs and challenges with the same enthusiasm as in the past.