Pilots of a bankrupt airline were offered jobs by a competitor without a single interview

Piedmont Airlines, a regional airline based in Maryland and a subsidiary of American Airlines, said Thursday it will offer ExpressJet pilots conditional job offers based on seniority. The offer is based on language from the Piedmont pilot contract, negotiated in 2021 with the world’s largest pilot union, the Airline Pilots Association, which allows the company to offer a « safe haven for the employment » to pilots of carriers « in distress ». , according to the company.
The offer doesn’t just come from Piedmont Airlines. Envoy Air, a subsidiary of American Airlines, « has the same provisions and we are offering ExpressJet/Aha pilots conditional job offers without interviews », according to Ric WilsonVice President of Flight Operations for Envoy Air.

Atlanta-based ExpressJet operated more than 450 planes at its peak, but pandemic-induced woes have dealt the regional carrier a fatal blow. The airline, which calls itself a « restart » of the company that previously operated as Delta Connection and United Express, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday in Delaware and ceased operations, according to the company website. He pointed to stifled growth, rising costs and falling revenues due to the pandemic.

“No one wants to see an airline fail, ever. We know ExpressJet pilots are well-trained aviators who know the Embraer 145 [aircraft]and we are very excited to make this transition as easy as possible for them,” Piedmont chief operating officer Matt Kernan said in a press release Thursday. tenders and in the process, help Piedmont grow its fleet. »

The effort to recruit experienced pilots from the downtrodden society comes as Piedmont seeks to expand its business and compete in an aviation industry with a thirst for pilots. Despite efforts by airlines to hire more pilots, the pilot shortage in the United States is expected to worsen further. And that will be especially true for regional airlines like Piedmont that serve smaller cities on behalf of larger carriers, like American Airlines. It is mainly these pilots who are hired to fly the larger jets.
Based on fleet forecast data from consulting firm Oliver Wyman and industry growth models, a shortage of nearly 30,000 pilots in North America is expected by 2032 if the industry fails to resolve its staffing issues. That’s almost four times the expected gap of 8,000 pilots this year, which has already proven problematic.
This shortage is hitting regional airlines like Piedmont particularly hard. According to the Regional Airline Association (RAA), two dozen markets served by regional airports have lost half of their service in the past three years – and that’s not including rounds of cuts expected later this year. Another 42 markets lost between a third and a half of the service during this period.
Behind the pilot shortage is a confluence of trends, including aging baby boomers retiring and far fewer job applicants coming from the military, while the use of unmanned drones steadily increasing and there were fewer deployments. Covid-19 has exacerbated the shortfall, with airlines offering pilots early retirement at the height of the pandemic. When travel demand surged in 2021, the shortage of pilots was so dire it hampered airlines’ ability to recover, leading to flight delays and cancellations.
“Communities have lost air service for most of the last decade,” said RAA CEO Faye Malarkey Black. « You don’t have to lose all of your service to lose connectivity to the system. When you lose a lot of your frequency, companies won’t want to set up shop in one place. »

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