CommutAir will add another 21 ERJ145s to the 40 it planned flying as a United Express carrier by 2019. The airline is retiring 37- and 50-seat turboprops, but will be tripling its ERJ fleet in just a few short years. Tripling support of a fleet type in a short time can be challenging for maintenance planners.
Spokesperson Josephine Monyak says CommutAir now handles maintenance in two facilities, one in Albany, New York, and the other in Newark, New Jersey. It outsources heavy airframe checks and engine and APU restorations, but does most of the rest in house.
The maintenance team at present consists of approximately 230 people, but that count will have to grow dramatically in the next three years. Monyak says the carrier is looking to add employees across the board, in base maintenance, maintenance planning, maintenance control, engineering, inspection and materials. It is also of course adding pilots, flight attendants and positions in its corporate office.
Monyak says simply building headcount should not be a problem. “The number one challenge is attracting the most talented and experienced candidates.” She thinks CommutAir’s reputation for fostering a family culture and providing a friendly work environment will help here.
But compensation matters as well. Average tech wages in New York-northern New Jersey averaged $68,400 in 2016, below Atlanta’s but well above wages in Dallas, Los Angeles, Fort Worth, Phoenix, Miami, Chicago or Tulsa and about 11% higher than the U.S. average. Monyak says CommutAir pays competitively and in addition offers “top-tier benefits.” Further, the airline is willing to compensate for experience and pay for those who can come in and start off as technical leads, crew chiefs and supervisors.