From left, F/O Peter Barczak, Capt. Brendon Morgan, and Capt. Johnathan Schwartz sport their Progression for All lanyards.
In 2018, two years into a then industry-leading contract modification and extension agreement, the Endeavor Air Master Executive Council (MEC) signed an additional 16 letters of agreement to further enhance the pilots’ contract, including improved long-call reserve language, reduced training freezes, and increased schedule flexibility for full-time instructors. However, the contract still falls short, and pilots are eager to address one significant missing piece: a clearly defined career path to their mainline partner.
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.
“Our job as union leaders is to negotiate contractually guaranteed benefits that provide value to our pilots,” said Capt. Nicholas James, the pilots’ MEC chair. “Without question, career progression would be a valuable achievement. However, at the current time, our pilots are only extended a noncontractual pathway to Delta, and that undermines our role as the collective bargaining representative.”
Endeavor pilots are only offered a guaranteed interview to Delta that currently has a 50 percent success rate. Delta also recently established the Propel program, which purports to “guarantee” student pilots a Delta pilot position once they meet certain criteria.
Less than half of Endeavor pilots who participated in the Delta guaranteed interview program were offered a pilot job at Delta in 2019. Ironically, under Delta’s Propel program, student pilots who’ve never sat on any commercial flight deck are assured they’ll join the Delta pilot group in three and a half years or less.
“We’re owned by and fly exclusively for Delta. We operate to the same standards, representing the same brand,” said Capt. David Szurgot, the MEC vice chair. “We give our passengers the same experience they’d expect on a larger jet. The pilots of Endeavor contribute to the success of Delta every day yet aren’t afforded an equal ability to advance their careers and fly for Delta like a Propel pilot under a noncontractual program.”
Delta’s Propel program creates a caste system at Endeavor in which a select number of pilots are told they’ll be able to advance their careers while Endeavor pilots are left to hope for a successful interview. Propel participants who fly for Endeavor can expect to join the ranks of Delta in less than three and a half years. In contrast, Endeavor pilots—who strengthen the Delta brand every day—will be offered an interview after about five years of service, assuming the program is still in existence.
The MEC leaders believe that all pilots should have a guaranteed and contractual ability to advance their careers. In September 2019, they started the “Hats Off, Lanyards On” campaign to show Delta management that Endeavor pilots stand unified in their quest for career progression. The campaign will continue into 2020 with the goal of achieving guaranteed and contractual career progression for all Endeavor pilots.
While the pilot group continues its efforts for contractual career progression, the airline’s hiring has remained relatively steady. Yet attrition has crept upward as pilots advance their careers to other airlines, including Air Transport International, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Kalitta Air, Spirit, and United. Endeavor is also seeing attrition to Envoy Air, Piedmont, and PSA—the American Airlines’ wholly owned regionals that offer contractual career progression to American Airlines.
In late 2019, the airline announced the addition of a new crew base in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the delivery of 15 CRJ700s and seven CRJ900s. The additional aircraft bring Endeavor’s total fleet to 176.
“With a strong MEC, experienced representatives and volunteers, and a pilot group unified in the goal of guaranteed and contractual career progression for all Endeavor pilots, we’re well positioned to make positive changes in 2020,” said James.