Delta, Endeavor Try Fresh Approach to Attracting Pilots

 - June 2, 2014, 2:29 PM
Although new-hire pilots will not have to undergo another application process before moving on to Delta, pilots already flying Endeavor Bombardier CRJ900s will retain their seniority and priority hiring status. (Photo: Endeavor Air)

Delta Air Lines plans to establish a new pilot hiring protocol at wholly owned Minneapolis-based regional subsidiary Endeavor Air that effectively matches the standards at the mainline and guarantees every new Endeavor pilot a future hiring “commitment” at Delta without the need to go through another interview process, the airlines announced Monday. Scheduled to take effect June 15, the new Endeavor-to-Delta Pilot Hiring and Commitment Program (EtD Commitment) applies to all new-hire Endeavor pilots. Application screening under the new program has already begun.
“No other regional airline is providing new pilots with this level of commitment for future employment with a mainline carrier,” said Endeavor president Ryan Gumm. “Identifying a clear career path is vitally important to pilots, and we’ve designed this program to help position Endeavor as a natural first choice for the best pilots.”
Speaking with AIN on the day of the announcement, Gumm explained that under the Endeavor model, candidates answer to a three-person panel and undergo a single day of interviews and cognitive aptitude testing. The new protocol adopts Delta’s model, which involves a two-day process in which applicants must undergo a battery of psychological testing as well as testing for leadership skills, job knowledge and cognition. Under the new protocol, the three-person interview panel will now include Delta representatives as well as Endeavor personnel.
Now employing some 11,000 pilots, Delta anticipates a need to hire some 600 cockpit crewmembers a year to address attrition, much of which, explained Delta Connection senior vice president Don Bornhorst, will result from the timing of the effects of the change in the FAA's mandatory retirement age from 60 to 65. “It’s a pretty symbiotic relationship we’re striking between Endeavor and Delta,” Bornhorst told AIN. “We want to put pilots on a career continuum, so therefore if Delta has a big need for pilots, which it’s anticipating it will for the next decade, this actually streamlines the process for Delta quite a bit.”
Meanwhile, as the major airlines draw pilots from the regional ranks to fill their vacancies, the new rule requiring first officers to carry an ATP certificate has already drained the pool of candidates for regional pilot jobs. Delta hopes the clearer path to employment at the mainline will entice more qualified pilots to apply at Endeavor. Today, it takes an average of about five years for a typical first-year Endeavor pilot to find a right-seat position at Delta, said Gumm.
“The competitive landscape for the regionals has never been any tighter; that’s for sure,” Gumm told AIN. “We put this program in place so we can attract the best or brightest pilots out there. Whether there’s ten of those or 10,000 we want to be able to get the best pilots in to fly the Delta brand.”
Endeavor pilots hired before the EtD program takes effect will continue to enjoy a “streamlined” application process at Delta and all seniority rankings will remain in place, meaning they will get an opportunity to apply at the mainline before any EtD program hiree finds a position there. If, for any reason, Delta doesn’t hire the applicant, he or she may stay with Endeavor.