CommutAir, a United Express® Carrier, Celebrates 30th Anniversary

(From L to R) Top: CommutAir President & CEO Rick Hoefling, ALB Airport CEO John O’Donnell, ALB County Executive Daniel McCoy. Bottom: CommutAir Founder & Chairman John Sullivan, Founders Sullivan and Tony Von Elbe

NORTH OLMSTED, OH (August 9, 2019) CommutAir, a United Express partner (UAL), celebrated its 30th anniversary as a regional airline carrier on August 1 in its hangar in Albany.

“I am always in awe of amount of passion and commitment that our CommutAir family has for each other,” said Rick Hoefling, who took the helm as CommutAir’s President and CEO earlier this year. “It is the dedication and professionalism of these individuals, and their ability to see every passenger as family, that enables us to provide the safe, caring, dependable and efficient service customers deserve.” Hoefling stated the company has grown so much that other anniversary celebrations were happening concurrently at the company’s Cleveland headquarters, bases in Newark and Dulles, as well as at the training center in Cincinnati.

Among the guests in attendance at the event were Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy and Albany Airport CEO John O’Donnell.

“After three decades, CommutAir has created great opportunity and deep ties to this region,” said McCoy, who presented airline executives with a Proclamation of Recognition. “By fostering a family culture and friendly work environment, CommutAir is a well-known name throughout the industry, and to our Albany terminal. I applaud your commitment to the community by focusing on education and active involvement in the lives of families and children. Congratulations on your anniversary!”

“The presence of CommutAir underscores the Albany County Airport Authority’s commitment to job growth and expansion in Upstate New York,” said Rev. Kenneth Doyle, Chairman of the Albany County Airport Authority. “We are committed to our partnership with CommutAir as it continues its successful operation at Albany International Airport.”

O’Donnell echoed the sentiment in his speech, explaining how the airport continues to make more room for CommutAir by expanding the area for jet parking.

The event culminated with a historical presentation from John Sullivan, CommutAir’s Chairman of the Board. Sullivan and partners Tony Von Elbe (also in attendance) and Jim Drollette were the original founders of the company in 1989.

August 1, 1989, CommutAir, then dba USAir Express, took its first flight from its Plattsburgh headquarters.

CommutAir : Then & Now

“We envisioned that we would operate for one major carrier, and we would operate a single type of aircraft. And at that time, we operated in a small geographic area, serving New England and New York state,” Sullivan said.

CommutAir was originally headquartered in Plattsburgh, New York (where it remained until 2007) on April 8, 1989 with a fleet of just two Beech 1900s. The airline took flight on August 1, 1989, with the USAir Express livery.

In the early 2000s, CommutAir left the USAir franchise and flew for Continental Airlines. The fleet was upgraded to 37-seat Bombardiers with pressurized cabins, lavatories, overhead storage bins, and flight attendants. As a Continental Commuter, CommutAir left Plattsburgh and moved operations to Cleveland, Ohio. Following the Continental merger with United Airlines, CommutAir flew as a United Express partner and upgraded its fleet to 50-seat Bombardiers.

A new agreement was reached with United Airlines in 2015, with the launch of the Career Path Program and the announcement that CommutAir would begin operating Embraer 145 jets. To facilitate the conversion to a jet fleet, United purchased a 40-percent ownership stake in CommutAir stock in 2016.

Now, CommutAir flies exclusively as a United Express carrier, using an all-jet fleet of nearly 40 aircraft in approximately one-third of the United States.

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CommutAir is in the process of tripling the size of its all-jet fleet of Embraer aircraft, and is actively hiring 400 pilots to fly them. CommutAir’s industry-leading benefits include:

Sign-On Bonus: $50,000 for captain-eligible pilots (1,000 hours)
• A Direct Route to United Airlines: United Career Path Program (CPP)
• Guaranteed Captain Pay for First Officers after Year 1
• Top-Tier pay and benefits, including the industry’s first Commuter policy.