Commutair will create up to 100 new jobs at its Albany maintenance base as it adds a fleet of 40 Embraer regional jets to its turboprop aircraft, significantly increasing the size of the airline. Commutair has been recruiting mechanics, pilots and flight attendants to maintain and operate the additional aircraft.
Commutair expects the jets to begin service in April, an airline official said at a press event Friday at the airport. The jets are being acquired from ExpressJet, also a United Express regional carrier.
Experienced aircraft mechanics in the Capital Region can expect to earn more than $65,000 a year, according to data from the state Department of Labor.
Commutair operates United Express flights out of United's hubs at Newark and Washington Dulles.
As part of the move, Commutair and United have also created what they call a Career Path Program that will enable Commutair pilots to transition to United aircraft.
"We are excited to have been given the opportunity to fly jets on behalf of United Express," said Joel T. Raymond, chief operating officer. "Aircraft growth and the CPP mean great promotion and career opportunities for crew and staff. We could not be happier," he added.
Commutair took delivery of its first Embraer jet in Albany at the end of November.
"The ability to have the airplane in Albany for a couple of months will allow us to complete aircraft familiarization training and methodically establish procedures and plans for the technical management of the aircraft type at our Albany base," James W. Page, vice president, maintenance, said at the time.
The ERJ-145 aircraft typically carry 50 passengers with a 2-1 configuration. Other United Express carriers at Albany already operate the aircraft.
It's not clear if the additional aircraft will result in any new routes from Albany.
Andy Price, Commutair's president, said United sets routes and schedules and he expected that those routes would be limited to flights to hub cities.
State funds last year allowed Commutair to expand its maintenance hangars at Albany. The airline, operated by Champlain Enterprises, has a long history at Albany. For many years, it had its hub operations here, flying a fleet of 19-seat planes throughout the Northeast as a Continental Connection carrier. At one point, it operated more than 50 daily flights from Albany.
Continental has since merged with United Airlines.