MIAMI — Yesterday morning, CommutAir announced that it plans to begin operating 40 Embraer ERJ-145 aircraft for United Airlines under the United Express brand in April 2016, subject to government approval.

The Embraer ERJ-145 Additions

CommutAir will be picking 40 ERJ-145s which are ex-ExpressJet E145s that were returned due to their leases ending; it was originally reported that they were coming from aircraft that were on the line at ExpressJet.


CommutAir has already started recruiting pilots to fly the ERJ-145s and is currently going through the regulatory process to add the aircraft to its certificate. Presently, CommutAir operates about 650 flights a week for United to 29 cities with Bombardier Dash 8-200s and 300s.

United has been shifting some of its ERJ-145s around to other operators such as TSA to help reduce costs and to avoid staffing issues. Although, United is aiming to end all of its CRJ-200s soon while the E145s will continue flying for quite some time.

New Career Path Program

CommutAir also announced that will implement a “Career Path Program” for pilots who choose to participate. The program will offer CommutAir pilots a transition to United, once certain requirements have been met; some of the requirements include various service and performance records as well as a certain number of accumulated flight hours.

“This is a wonderful and attractive opportunity for CommutAir” said John Sullivan, Chairman of CommutAir.” In conjunction with this exciting growth plan, we will be implementing a program that offers a clear career path option to participating pilots. I appreciate working with United in offering more opportunities for our pilots and all of our employees,” he added.

The new path program will be the first for regional pilots to get into United. There are similar programs already in place at other airlines.  For example, Endeavor offers its pilots guaranteed interviews with Delta dependent upon certain accomplishments and seniority number.

One of the original pilot career pathway programs is the the JetBlue University Gateway Program. It has a partnership at six universities in the United States in which students apply to, then complete an internship at Cape Air, ExpressJet, or JetBlue, flight instruct for a year at their educational institution, and then transition to flying at Cape Air or ExpressJet. After gaining 2-3 years of experience and accruing approximately 3500 flight hours, the Gateway Program aviator can then transition to JetBlue in a First Officer position.  This talent pipeline was one of the first of its kind and has proved to be a great way to flow pilots from their respective AABI-accredited universities all the way to JetBlue.