Delta Air Lines and its regional subsidiary Endeavor Air have unveiled a new pilot hiring scheme to address difficulties in hiring qualified pilots.

From 15 June, each new Endeavor pilot hired by the regional carrier will receive a commitment for a job at Delta in the future. Delta says the programme, called the Endeavor-to-Delta Pilot Hiring and Commitment Programme (EtD), will fulfill one-third of its future pilot hiring needs.

"Delta expects to hire thousands of pilots in the coming years as many of its current pilots reach mandatory FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] retirement age," says the carrier. Delta forecasts a need for 600 to 700 new pilots each year, says Don Bornhorst, senior vice president at Delta Connection. Endeavor operates under the Delta Connection brand.

Endeavor Air president Ryan Gumm calls the scheme a first for the industry. "No other regional airline is providing new pilots with this level of commitment for future employment with a mainline carrier," he says.

Endeavor hires about 10 new pilots a month depending on operational needs, and hopes that the new scheme will double this to 20.

Under the programme, a Delta representative will sit on a three-person panel during interviews with potential Endeavor hires. Gumm tells Flightglobal that it will take Endeavor pilots five years on average at the regional carrier before they are qualified for a job at Delta.

Unlike pilots hired from elsewhere, these pilots will not have to go through a separate interview before they join Delta, he explains. Currently, Endeavor pilots are guaranteed an interview with Delta once they are qualified to fly with mainline carrier, but they still have to go through a one-day interview process.

US regional carriers are facing difficulties in attracting pilots, which they say has led to reducing flying for the mainline carriers as they choose to let capacity purchase agreements expire. New pilot training requirements implemented by the FAA that were implemented in August 2013 have compounded hiring difficulties, say regional airlines.

However, US pilots unions say that there is no shortage of qualified pilots, and that regional airlines need to offer better pay and packages to attract hires.

Source: Cirium Dashboard