Spokane Journal of Business

Empire Airlines, FedEx team up to train more pilots

Program aims to recruit, promote student aviators

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Hayden-based Empire Airlines Inc. is collaborating with Memphis, Tenn.-based cargo airline FedEx Express in a program aimed at recruiting pilots from universities and aviation colleges and training them for advancement to the FedEx fleet.

Tim Komberec, president and CEO of Empire Airlines, says through the FedEx Express Pathways Purple Runway program, student pilots with either a two-year or four-year degree from an accredited university or an Aviation Accreditation Board International education program have the opportunity to develop skills and experience at one of FedEx’s feeder operators, which include Empire Airlines and North Carolina-based Mountain Air Cargo.

“This program kicks off once prospective pilots have finished their initial training through an accredited university and logged their required hours of flight time,” Komberec says. “We anticipate it will take pilots about four years to move through the program, depending on what level of experience they’re starting with.”

Upon completion of the program requirements, students then could qualify for pilot jobs at FedEx.

“It’s designed to be able to bring people into a career pathway, and if they stick with it and meet all the requirements, ultimately they would gain employment with FedEx Express,” he says.

As the program continues to develop, Komberec says Empire plans to work with nearby colleges and universities to recruit potential pilots and other students interested in aviation careers.

“We aren’t able to offer any kind of financial assistance or scholarships yet, but we want to work with area colleges to help mentor students and guide them into the program,” he says.

Founded in 1977, Empire Airlines is an Idaho-based company with over 350 employees providing air cargo services for FedEx in 15 states and inter-island passenger airline services for Hawaiian Airlines in Hawaii.

LeAnn Bjerken
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Reporter LeAnn Bjerken covers health care at the Journal of Business. A Minnesota native and cat lover, she enjoys beachside vacations and writing poetry. LeAnn has worked for the Journal since 2015.

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