A successful partnership between Endeavor Air pilots and management, which capitalized on the strength of contract enhancements achieved in 2015, has poised the airline for growth in 2016. At the beginning of 2016, the capstone in that partnership is a pilot-retention payment plan, which pays each pilot $20,000 per year in three installments for continued employment. These payments halted pilot attrition to other fee-for-departure carriers that Endeavor was experiencing in late 2014 and attracted many new pilots to the airline with top-of-the-industry first officer compensation—about $45,000 a year for new hires. The payments will continue for all pilots on the property—including new hires starting with their date of hire—through the end of 2018. In addition, by the end of 2015, the pilots’ Master Executive Council (MEC) successfully negotiated a Mutual Benefit Letter of Agreement that increased pilot compensation and enhanced work rules.
The MEC expects to continue to negotiate with the company to amend wages well in advance of the expiration of the retention-payment program so that market-rate compensation will once again be reflected in pilot pay scales.
“We’re looking at ways to support growth through improved training and staffing efficiency,” said Capt. Jonathan Allen, the pilots’ MEC chairman, “and in return we’re seeking pay, quality-of-life, commuting, and reserve work rule improvements.”
Throughout 2015, new-hire class sizes steadily increased to the point that multiple classes per month were started late in the year. Hiring kept pace with the rate of attrition, and continuing increases in monthly hiring should allow the company to grow for the first time since exiting bankruptcy in 2013 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines.
According to Allen, the quality of the airline’s operation has steadily improved. “Delta has recognized Endeavor’s operational performance,” Allen said, “and in spite of the challenges associated with operations at our hub airports, Endeavor is achieving record success, consistently generating maximum payouts through the airline’s Operational Performance Rewards program.” In a mid-year message to Endeavor employees, CEO Ryan Gumm noted, “We now sit at 10 straight months at or above goal for our controllable completion factor, which was highlighted by our streak in May of 21 days, 23 hours, and 58 minutes between controllable cancellations.”
In addition to contract enhancement and operational performance, the MEC has maintained its focus on contract compliance. As a measure of success in that area, the Grievance Committee has seen a greater than 50 percent reduction in incoming pilot issue forms. Much of the progress can be attributed to the ongoing and collaborative remedy request process, a monthly meeting between MEC and company representatives that identifies and attempts to resolve pilot issues short of the full-blown grievance process, resulting in timely payments to pilots whose contractual rights have been violated. The company then takes the data from remedy requests and works with the departments involved to prevent future recurrences of known issues. The company’s successful implementation of FLICA Open Time Manager to automate trip requests has also helped ensure that contractual rules are followed.
November of last year marked the exit of N8943A, a CRJ200, from long-term storage. Endeavor has parked nearly 100 CRJ200s in Kingman, Ariz., over the past three years, and the return to service of that airplane—coupled with continual increases in pilot hiring—is clear evidence that the airline has rounded a corner and is headed in a positive direction. “With aircraft beginning to return from long-term storage, strong operational performance, a steady stream of new pilots, and ongoing contract enhancements, there’s been a noticeable improvement in pride and morale among our pilots,” Allen said. “It’s creating positive momentum, and it’s self-reinforcing. I’m excited for what 2016 will bring.”