ExpressJet pilots to staff new CommutAir base

 - November 30, 2007, 11:00 AM

CommutAir’s flight operations department accelerated preparations last month for a major expansion scheduled to start March 16 in Cleveland, where the Plattsburg, N.Y.-based Continental Connection affiliate plans to nearly double its capacity by year-end with 12 new destinations. Under a three-way deal among CommutAir, ExpressJet and ALPA, the long-time Beech 1900 operator expects to deploy at least 14 more of the 19-seat turboprops at Cleveland Hopkins International, flown by furloughed pilots from Houston-based ExpressJet and at least 105 more CommutAir pilots.  The first new-hire pilot class began on January 27. A second new-hire class of 12 started February 17 and an upgrade class of six first officers began on February 24. On March 16 CommutAir will begin flying routes from Cleveland to Kalamazoo, Mich., and Elmira, N.Y. On April 6 it plans to add Pittsburgh and Erie, Pa. All the new routes were part of Continental Express’ network before the Embraer jet operator shed the last of its own fleet of Beech 1900s last year.