An Endeavor Air CRJ200 on the ramp at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The Endeavor Air Master Executive Council (MEC) is well versed in the ingenuity and flexibility required of a regional airline in an ever-changing industry. While 2020 brought significant turbulence, the MEC was able to navigate the challenges with a continued focus on its pilots’ goals, broaden its “Progression for All” campaign, and protect jobs and benefits for its pilots.
“The COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges for our industry, but the MEC has worked diligently to mitigate furloughs, protect jobs, and uphold the pillars of our contract to ensure that our pilots continue to work under the best terms and conditions possible,” said Capt. Nick James, the pilot group’s MEC chair.
In 2017, the pilots signed a then industry-leading contract modification and extension agreement and have since signed an additional 30 letters of agreement to further enhance their contract, including improved long-call reserve language, reduced training freezes, and increased schedule flexibility for full-time instructors. However, the pilots are eager to address one significant missing piece: a guaranteed and contractual path to a mainline career.
Endeavor is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, yet its pilots aren’t extended the contractual career progression that other U.S. wholly owned regionals are offered. In 2019, the Endeavor MEC launched the Progression for All campaign to address this need.
“The Progression for All model is the solution to the regional airline industry’s challenges of acquisition and retention of pilots and solves the challenges facing Endeavor, Delta, and our industry today,” said Capt. David Szurgot, the MEC vice chair. “We believe in a problem-solving, relationship-building approach with Endeavor and Delta management, which has worked well for us.”
When Endeavor launched Progression for All, it was a public call to Delta to recognize Endeavor pilots’ professionalism, performance, and brand loyalty with a guaranteed and contractual model commensurate with the value they bring to the company. While the importance of the campaign remains and the MEC continues to advocate on behalf of its pilots, recognizing the current environment and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry, the MEC expanded the scope of Progression for All in late 2020.
“Progression for All has always been a message of positivity and inclusivity, something we need in our industry now more than ever,” said James. “The campaign is no longer just about Endeavor pilots securing careers at Delta; it’s about all of us progressing through this challenge together.”
With a change in motto to “Progression for All—Advancing ALPA Pilots,” Endeavor began work to support all pilots’ career progression. The MEC passed two resolutions asking management to offer no-interview pilot positions to furloughed Delta pilots and reserve a portion of any future Endeavor new-hire classes to furloughed ALPA pilots. Endeavor partnered with the Delta MEC, which passed similar resolutions.
“It’s a message that carries significant relevance today and is easily relatable by each and every ALPA pilot at one time or another during their careers,” said F/O Jade Schiewe, the MEC secretary-treasurer. “Individually, we need to advance; our industry needs to advance; and Endeavor needs to advance.”
Endeavor has been relatively fortunate through the industry downturn caused by COVID-19. Thus far, the MEC has successfully navigated this crisis while not losing a single pilot to furlough nor having pilots take any involuntary cuts in compensation, benefits, or work rules. The company was able to reallocate resources and preserve all Endeavor pilot jobs through realignments and voluntary measures.
In 2020, Endeavor grew with a new crew base in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the delivery of 15 CRJ700s and seven CRJ900s. This growth brings Endeavor’s total fleet to 180 aircraft.
“Endeavor has the benefit of a strong MEC, experienced representatives and volunteers, a productive relationship with management, and a unified pilot group,” said James. “If aviation has proven one thing and one thing only, it’s that our resilience is beyond reproach.”