Real Answers from Real Pilots

ATP Announces Partnership With Frontier Airlines

Today ATP announced a new partnership with Frontier Airlines to allow select pilots to transition straight from CFI to being a pilot with Frontier Airlines. This is a great opportunity to skip right past the regionals and begin your career as an airline pilot with a major airline.

Click on this link for details: Frontier Airlines / ATP Flight School

Full press release: Frontier Airlines Forms Pilot Pathway with ATP Flight School / ATP Flight School

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Frontier was involved in a serious pilot strike fairly recently and there were widespread complaints about pilots being paid well below market, abuse by management, and lack of hours and advancement. Has Frontier addressed this with ATP in their recruitment and have they shown that things have changed in the 2-3 years since the strikes?

I know ATP graduated many Frontier pilots. Are any in the forum to discuss what their experience has been (in private, if necessary)?

Frontier pilots never struck. They voted that they were willing to do so, but never did. They did hold informational picketing. In 2019, they agreed to a 53% pay increase, amongst other improvements in their contract.

Scott,

As Chris said, the Frontier pilots never went on strike (btw strikes are always serious). As a rule when it comes contract negotiation time, there’s ALWAYS widespread complaints by pilots (actually there’s always complaints by pilots regardless) just as there is at every airline in the country. Not sure why you think this is something Frontier needs to address with ATP? ATP trains pilots for a career in the airlines. If an airline wants to start a partnership with ATP that’s always beneficial to the students. It’s up to the individual student to determine if Frontier is a good choice or not but options are always a good thing.

Adam

I am a current Frontier pilot and happy to answer any questions you guys may have about the airline. I do not know anything about the ATP pathway program other than what has been released publicly.

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Ray,
Thanks for offering your insight. How long have you been with Frontier? What path did you take to get hired (previous experience, hours, etc.)? Do you get to travel throughout their route map or is it limited to a few cities on a rotation? COVID aside, how many hours do you get to fly each month? Every employer has their ups and downs, so… if a dear friend asked you, would you recommend that they apply to Frontier in terms of quality of life at work? What equipment do you fly? Are the aircraft well-maintained?
Again, thanks for taking the time to give us your insight.
Scott

Sure thing Scott. I’ve been with Frontier a little over 4 years now. I commuted to and was based in DEN for the first year, but have been living/based in MCO for the last 3. I trained at a similar type of school to ATP but it was in the UK. I did CFI/charter/contract pilot work for my first 3 years as a pro pilot then went to a regional. I came to Frontier with about 4000 hours of total time, 1600ish turbine PIC and a few check marks like sim instructor / check airman and APD.

I have been to the great majority of cities Frontier flies too…partly because I’ve been based in two different places. Each base has more flying to a particular region than others but there’s a good mix at all bases. If you have a real hankering to fly something different you can always pick up open time in another base. As a senior First Officer based in MCO, I prefer out-and-back 1 day trips, so that usually means running up and down the eastern seaboard or into the midwest. Anything further west than about DEN turns into a two day trip, but those kinds of trips definitely exist out of MCO. I actually used to love flying a 2 day trip that overnighted in SAN for 24 hours. We are just starting to expand into the Carribean and Central America, mostly out of our MIA base. We’re looking to add 2-3 new bases over the coming 1-2 years.

Pre-COVID, on an annual basis, I was averaging around 95 hours of credit a month which equated to around 55 block hours. Most months the block hours were probably higher, but vacation months skewed the credit to block hour ratio. If I were to guess I’d say around 65-70 hours of block a month for a normal flying month with around 85 hours of credit.

As far as recommending Frontier, I would absolutely recommend it on the basis of quality of life at work. As a lineholder I’ve averaged 15-16 days off a month pretty consistently. These days on the senior FO side, I’m disappointed with anything less than 17 and have seen 18-19 days off pretty regularly. Most airlines have the ability to add/drop/swap their flying with an open time pot written into their contracts. Learning from friends at the legacies at a similar level of relative seniority to me (UAL/AA in particular), we have an easier time of actually doing it with our work rules. Most pilots have been able to manipulate most, if not all of their schedule most months of the year. Again, this is all pre-COVID / in a “normal” year. It’s due to the quality of life I’ve enjoyed at Frontier that I have ceased looking to move to a legacy carrier. The only thing I’m really giving up is the possibility of long haul widebody flying, but I think the novelty would wear off pretty quickly. The multiple redeye transcons I’ve flown over the last several years pretty much sealed that up. Growth is never a guarantee but we’re doing well so far and if it continues as planned, financially I won’t be behind a similar age/seniority pilot at a legacy at retirement.

We only have one fleet type, the A320 series. We have a handful of A319s but they are on their way out the door. The rest are A320NEO and A321-200 aircraft. We have around 104 aircraft right now with 134 aircraft on order for delivery over the next several years. Don’t quote me on the exact timing but around 2022-2023 timeframe we will start getting the A321NEO and A321XLR.

The great majority of our aircraft are less than 5 years old, so maintenance isn’t a huge headache, but I’ve been pleased with our maintenance program and it continues to get better over time as we transition from a small to a larger airline. The company is investing in infrastructure pretty generously these days, so it’s exciting to see.

Best of luck in your career path!

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