Get the Facts
Since its beginnings in 1989 as a regional carrier, CommutAir has remained true to its employee-centric culture, valuing and promoting the contributions of our 600+ employees. Through that period, the fleet has evolved from Beechcraft 1900’s to the Bombardier DHC-8 series 200 and 300. July 1, 2016 ushers in a new era of growth, stability, and prosperity for the company and its employees as we deploy the first 40 Embraer 145XR aircraft under a United Express Agreement.
Quite simply, the new agreement will make the company DOUBLE in size every year and require it to take on 500 pilots in the coming 2 years. In order to achieve that goal and attract crewmembers into the family, CommutAir has set many industry standards in pilot compensation and benefits and we have no intention of stopping. Our employee-centric culture along with these trailblazing benefits provide the best package available for any pilot joining the company including:
- Four Stripes Faster – upgrade at lightning speed, for some as soon as after completing IOE
- Compensation and benefits in the top tier of all regionals
- A clean and quick Career Path Program (CPP) to a United flight deck – where you can qualify at time of hire or any time after you’ve joined the CommutAir team
- And the industry’s leading Sign-on Bonus program- that pays for your CTP and that justly rewards for your experience
Know your team
As we begin this extraordinary growth, CommutAir is focused on retaining the small-company atmosphere that has made the airline so successful. We know our pilots by their name not by their employee number. Our CEO or COO meets each of the new classes and presents the company’s history, as well as their vision for the company and outlook going forward and then hosts an informal reception where everyone is free to discuss both their future as an employee as well as their lives away from the “office”. This open door policy pervades across the company and feedback, comments and concerns from all of our employees are always welcome.
CommutAir has also turned the tables on traditional labor relations by maintaining a close working relationship with union leaders. The recently ratified Collective Bargaining Agreement with ALPA on behalf of our pilot group was fully negotiated and signed in under 3 months. This agreement not only helped position the company for growth but improved the compensation and quality of life for all pilots regardless of fleet or seat. Pilots are paid for more than just their flying time such as company paid commuter hotels. Ask us how we can help you have more money in your pocket at the end of the month by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. The contract also provides for annual benefit enhancements such as Flexible Spending and increased 401K match.
According to Joel Raymond, Chief Operating Officer, the company’s strong relationship with labor groups has consistently benefited both the pilots and the company. “The company was able to secure the new Capacity Purchase Agreement (CPA) with United in part because of our ability to work collectively with the pilots.” An indicator of how strong CommutAir’s relationship is with its pilots is that the company currently has no contract grievances outstanding, and has never in its history had a dispute move beyond the investigation phase.
CommutAir was the first carrier to implement a Career Path Program (CPP) with United Airlines. This program provides pilots with the opportunity to join United upon completion of the program requirements and conditions. Pilot candidates can complete the first qualification phase prior to their start date with CommutAir; the interview phase is then completed after their initial equipment IOE. Of course a pilot can choose to wait to start the process at an open enrollment time period as well. United has reserved a portion of their new hire class slots every year for CommutAir pilots! By virtue of CommutAir’s unprecedented growth, the CPP program at CommutAir is the fastest way into the right seat at a major carrier.
Pilots who want to broaden their horizons outside of the flight deck have the opportunity to not only help hire the next generation of CommutAir pilots but also actively participate in all phases of training. According to Chief Pilot David Fitzgerald, “we are actively recruiting qualified individuals and well-rounded aviators who understand not only operations in the flight deck but also the big picture of Flight Operations.” “Many of our pilots want to actively participate in and sometimes even volunteer their time in improving the organization in the areas of safety, training, and mentorship.” At CommutAir, our employees are our best recruiters; in a recent survey 100% of respondents would recommend the company to a friend.
Don’t take our word for it, here’s how a recent new hire has expressed the feeling of many:
“Joining the team and experiencing the unique culture at CommutAir has given a much needed boost to the career progression of mine and many other pilots in my new hire class. It was not an easy decision to make a lateral move to another regional carrier, but when looking back, there are many reasons why this move was not lateral, but forward. After 4 years at my old regional I was not experiencing the career progression that I set out for, being a pilot-in-command. Giving up my accrued pay longevity and starting over at year 1 was a tough choice. It meant a lot to me knowing that CommutAir valued my prior experience in the form of a generous signing bonus. Add the fact that me and my classmates will be upgrading in less than a year, which means our year 1 pay will actually surpass what we were making after accruing 4+ years of longevity at our previous carriers. The camaraderie and positive energy surrounding our pilot group makes coming to work enjoyable, and I believe that translates into an exceptional experience for our customers as well. Another positive aspect of coming to CommutAir has been the opportunity to participate in the United Airlines Career Path Program. This is a great way for one to continue their professional development and be set on a clear and defined path to eventually join United Airlines.”
CommutAir currently serves the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions from United’s hubs in Dulles and Newark, providing critical connection opportunities for its passengers on the Eastern seaboard. The company’s primary maintenance facility is located in Albany, NY with line stations in IAD and EWR.
Interview with Petra Kliman, Recruiting Manager at CommutAir
Craig: How do you select applicants to be brought in for an interview?
Petra: We review every application or resume that we receive through various channels whether it is airlineapps, our website or an email to email@example.com. Anyone who meets our current hiring criteria will get a call from one of our recruiters for a phone screen.
C: Can you explain the point system associated with online application process and what types of things count for points?
P: We do not apply a robotic point system, but instead our recruiters look at the applicant as a person.
C: What can an applicant do to increase their chances of being called for an interview?
P: It is really quite simple- provide us with your availability and we are happy to give you a call. Professional communications will definitely make an applicant stand out.
C: How critical is it to attend a job fair to get an interview?
P: Attending a job fair is not necessary. However we encourage pilots to research and follow our company and a job fair is a great opportunity to connect in person with our pilots and recruiters. We often have opportunities for interviews right at the event as well.
C: What is the best way to prepare for an interview with your company?
P: We will review all your pilot relevant documents, like logbooks and certificates. Make sure those items are current and updated. Our test contains ATP written questions and we will ask you to finger-fly an approach with Jeppesen plates as well as decode weather information. Aside from the technical evaluation, we really just want to get to know you and your personality.
C: Do you recommend that applicants get to your headquarters city the day before and get a hotel room for the night?
P: We recognize that travelling and making time for an in-person interview is not always possible or convenient, so we conduct a lot of our interviews via Skype. If your interview is successful and you have a conditional offer of employment, we will bring you to Cleveland to meet the team and complete any necessary paperwork and background checks. We provide flights to our Cleveland headquarters and if a day-trip is not possible we will provide lodging overnight as well
C: Can you walk me through a typical day of interviews?
P: Most of our initial interview are conducted via Skype. Whether a candidate arrives at the office or joins us via Skype, they will go through an HR and technical interview with our pilots and recruiters. We will present detailed information on the company, work rules, benefits and the training footprint with plenty of opportunity to ask questions and interview us as well. Our interview team will review pilot credentials and any other necessary paperwork after a quick tour of our facility, and most importantly showing everyone where to find coffee and snacks. Overall our interview is a fairly laid-back experience that we try to make as convenient as possible for our applicants.
C: What kind of questions can an applicant expect to be asked?
P: We ask questions about an applicants’ past experience in relevant situations and scenarios. For example dealing with an adverse situation in the flight deck or with a coworker to gauge how someone communicates.
C: Can you give me some examples of the TMAAT questions that you like to ask?
P: We aim to find and hire team members, who truly live safety in their daily work and routine, so questions like “Tell us about a time, when you felt the safety of your flight was compromised and how you dealt with it” are part of every interview.
C: If the TMAAT question being asked does not apply to that applicant can that question be skipped?
P: Of course. We have a very diverse group of pilots with all kinds of different backgrounds and our interview will be tailored to the applicants’ background as much as possible.
C: What are some of the biggest mistakes that applicants make during the interview process?
P: Not taking the process seriously. We are looking for aviators dedicated to their profession, who are willing to help us make this new era in the history of CommutAir the most successful one yet. We invest a lot of time and energy in selecting the right people for the CommutAir family, who do their homework, know their stuff and are team players.
C: Is there a written or computer test?
P: Yes, we administer a 40 question computer based test.
C: What can you recommend applicants study for that test? At what point is this test taken?
P: The test is taken the same day as the interview and questions are taken from ATP written test.
C: Do you have a simulator ride?
P: We do not use a simulator evaluation for the interview.
C: Do you tell applicants they are hired in person that day?
P: We do on occasion tell applicants the result the same day, but typically within 2-3 days.
C: How soon can an applicant expect a class date after being hired?
P: We have classes currently once a month at the beginning of the month and qualified applicants can start training in the very next class. Even if someone needs to build some time, we include a tentative class date in every offer letter.
C: How many pilots does your airline expect to hire this year?
P: We anticipate hiring more than 250 pilots this year effectively doubling our current seniority list.
C: Can you explain the ATP-CTP class that your company offers?
P: We partner with several providers to offer our applicants options to complete the CTP-course. There is no out-of-pocket cost for the applicant. CommutAir covers course cost, lodging and travel as well as the FAA ATP written test cost.
C: Do you have a hiring bonus? Is there any specific criterion to qualify for the bonus?
P: Yes, we certainly do. At this time, our sign-on bonus is up to $15,000 depending on your background. We value pilots coming to us with flight time applicable to airline upgrade requirements and have incentives in place for up to 1600 hours of aeronautical experience. Experienced pilots coming to us currently have the opportunity to upgrade to the left seat almost immediately after completing initial training.
C: Does CommutAir have a pilot referral program?
P: Our pilots are some of our best recruiters! Many of our pilots embrace the opportunity of having input in who joins the team. Great people bring us other great people, who will fit best into our company and culture. We have maintained a referral program and pay out every month.
C: Can you describe the career path program that CommutAir has with United Airlines?
P: We are very proud to be the first partner for United Airlines as we launch our Career Path Program with them. As many of your readers know, CommutAir applicants may have the opportunity to interview for a position at United Airlines after successfully passing the Hogan Assessment and completing initial training. After building flight time and airline experience at CommutAir as well as passing stringent requirements, qualified applicants are assigned a spot in a United Training class.
We have a guaranteed percentage of pilots, who have the opportunity every year to advance their careers at United Airlines.”
Headquarters: North Olmsted, OH
Number of employees: 650
Number of Aircraft: 24 doubling in 2017
Number of Pilots: 235, most junior CP hired March 2016
Number of Passengers (yearly): 1.3 Million
Number of Bases: 2 (EWR and IAD)
Number of Cities served: 30+
Benefits: 401k with Company match, 3 health plan choices, Dental, Vision, Company paid life and disability insurance, travel benefits, paid commuter hotels and parking