A CommutAir Embraer 145XR awaits departure at Memphis International Airport.
CommutAir’s collective bargaining agreement becomes amendable December 1, 2019. Negotiations can begin 90 days prior to this date, or on or about September 1, 2019. The ALPA Negotiating Committee has been working on its opening proposals since March and has conducted a survey of the pilot group. The MEC and Negotiating Committee have been dealing with an ongoing problem of high turnover that left the group without an MEC chairman in March. In June, Capt. Earl Blowers was elected MEC chairman.
There has been a recent a stabilization in the company after a few years of dramatic changes. The carrier’s Dash 8s were retired in January 2017, giving them an all-Embraer 145XR fleet. The company also increased its Embraer 145 fleet to 36 aircraft, and a total of 61 are expected in the coming years.
CommutAir, along with the other fee-for-departure carriers, continues to struggle with the shortage of pilots that is hampering hiring efforts. Unique to CommutAir, the airline also struggles effectively balancing their domiciles, adversely affecting quality of life.
Further complicating CommutAir’s hiring efforts is that United has expanded its Career Path Program (CPP) to other regional partners. The CPP has benefited at least 40 CommutAir pilots with careers at United Airlines since its inception two years ago. Many more pilots are currently waiting until they achieve the flight-time and longevity goals established in the CPP, as well as waiting for United’s hiring windows. CommutAir is entitled to 10 percent of United’s new-hire classes, not to exceed 10 percent of the pilots’ seniority list. The good news is, the company isn’t holding pilots back; however, United has metered its classes and changed criteria for the CPP to reflect the staffing needs of its Express partners.
After a few years of challenges operating two fleets and bringing the E-145 online, 2020 looks to be a year of either continued negotiations or bright futures with a new contract in place. CommutAir pilots look forward to continued growth and improvements in the upcoming year.