Cape Air vs Regionals


I am currently in ATP and am about ready to head out to crew. I love ATP and am grateful for the knowledge and skills I have acquired so far. Looking to graduate the program around April.

Before I started ATP, I was working for JetBlue and received a CJO through their pilot gateway program. After my training, I have the option of either working for one of their Part 135 partners (Cape Air, JSX, or Tradewind), or flying 1000 hours at a regional/Part 121 before returning to JetBlue.

From the 135 side, I would be interested in working for Cape Air. As part of JetBlue’s agreement with Cape Air, I would get hired at around 500-700 hours, upgrade to Captain at 1500 hours, and then fly for 1 year as Captain before going directly to JetBlue. No reserve at Cape Air.

From the regional side, I would need to fly 1000 hours at that regional/Part 121 carrier and then I can go to JetBlue.

Factoring in instructing to 1500 hours along with training time and reserve time at a regional, and assuming a Cape Air pilot flys about 80-100 hours/month (that seems to be the average), would it be better to pursue the Cape Air option as it appears to be much faster in getting to a major? From my research, the Cape Air option should take about 2ish years (give or take) from initial hire to complete. I have until March 2027 to complete my time building and return to JetBlue for my CJO to be valid.

Also, what is the general consensus that pilots have about Cape Air? From my research, it seems like a very good way to build time and sharpen piloting skills.



Obviously it’s your call but that’s a tough one? While the Cape Air would probably get you to JB faster my question is why are you so gung ho on JB? Don’t get me wrong, JB is a great airline and I have many friends who are very happy there but we are living in unprecedented times my friend. EVERYONE is hiring and Delta just annouced 767/757 upgrades in less than a year which is insane! There are so many opportunities available to new pilots these days Id be hesitant to lock myself into any one airline. So while JB will take you out of Cape Air, flying for a 121 Regional could open the door to virtually any airline in the country.

Again JB is a great airline but they’re never going to pay the money, fly the equipment or travel the routes of the Big 3. You’re call.


Hi Adam, thanks for the reply.

You are right, definitely best to keep all options open. I’ve worked for JetBlue throughout college and I really enjoy the company.

The way I see it, even if I ended up getting the opportunity to fly for one of the Big 3, wouldn’t it be better to go from B6 to the Big 3 as opposed to waiting it out for 5+ years at a regional? If anything were to ever go wrong again, it just sounds like being at B6 would be a lot better place to be than being at a regional. Wouldn’t I be more attractive to a legacy coming from a couple years at B6 with a A320 type rating than a few years at a regional?


I know the fastest track seems like the better option but it isn’t necessarily. Quality and SAFE time building is important.

How many hours would you need for JSX or tradewind? If you can get some of your time there before 1500 hours, I would do that. Then go to the regional upon reaching 1500 hours. This way you get turbine/jet time early on, potentially some PIC Turbine time, part 135 experience and then 121. That would make you an incredibly desirable candidate for any airline but also satisfy the requirements to return to JB if you’re still wanting to.

The benefit of the regional experience, quick movement! Little time on reserve, max block schedules, and immediate upgrade opportunities as soon as you’re qualified (1000 121 time). LCC typically have much less movement, longer reserve and longer upgrade times. However, the trade off: long term stability.

To answer your last question, no. The legacies won’t care you have an A320 type vs a CRJ/ERJ type. They want to know you can operate in a 121 environment safely and successfully, have the min required hours to be eligible for hire and will make a great addition to their company. The training will be provided regardless of the type ratings you arrive with. You could be hired in to the 737 fleet where your Airbus type is just as helpful as a CRJ one.


Hi Hannah, thanks for your reply!

The Tradewind and JSX option require a 30 month commitment from DOH which is around 800TT. That’s the main reason Cape Air seemed more attractive to me. But, as you said, flying turbine definitely has it’s tradeoffs. I have no problem with instructing to 1500 either, but I am just looking for the quickest (and safest) route since I am on a time crunch.

My main and pretty much only concern with the regionals was reserve time, as I wouldn’t want to have to be on reserve longer than a few months since I have a 1000 hour deadline to meet by March 2027. It’s encouraging to hear that the regionals are experiencing quick movement!

And thanks for clarifying my other question about the type rating, that makes sense!

No Dayson, not really.

First off it’s more like 2yrs at a Regional. In fact Hannah has been at SkyWest for just over a year and she’s moving on.

Further, as Hannah said, the Majors don’t care one bit that you’ve got a 321 or any other type.

Again, totally your call and if you want a career at JB than by all means go that route, but if you’re looking at it as a stepping stone then the Regionals are the way to go.


Mahalo for your help, Adam. This Maui boy appreciates it!

No interest in Hawaiian? We’ll hire you with 6mos at a Regional.


Very much still considering Hawaiian. That was my childhood dream and initially my first choice before coming up to the mainland for college. I had no idea Hawaiian would hire that quickly! How long do you think that will last?

That brings up the main issue of do I want to go back home to Hawaii or stay up here…… Decisions decisions!


The others brought up good points.

One option not explored: Time building to 1500 hours and getting in the ATP pathway to Spirit. So if you have 1500hrs in 1 year, join Spirit… and when they merge with JB in 2-3 years you will have a year better seniority than the pathway program you described above that requires 2-3 years before joining JB.

Basically you could have Spirit/JB seniority late 2024 vs Pathway to JB seniority around late 2025. Choices are yours.

Chris F

Hey Chris. Thanks for the reply. That’s a great idea! Only thing that I’m wondering is how much longer JetBlue will allow Spirit to do that program. Hopefully it’s still around by the time I get to 1500 if that ends up being the route I go.


Both companies need to act in their individual best interest until the acquisition is completed which is expected to be the first half of 2024 (if no delays come up). So your timeline would be cutting it close to that date by their estimate. Its anyone’s guess what their hiring requirements would be at that time. Study hard and fly fly fly… other than that, keep an eye on your options along the way.


I spent 18 months at Skywest and was right on the cusp of a captain upgrade before getting hired at a legacy airline. 2 years is very realistic to upgrade and then get interviews with major carriers as long as you have a college degree.


Thanks Hannah, appreciate the help!

Hannah, quick question. Would you be willing to share about how many hours you were able to accumulate during your 18 months?

Absolutely! I built 750 of 121 turbine time. Initial training was about 2 months and then I sat on reserve for 4 months. Then this past fall I was on personal leave for 3 months. That accounts for 9 months leaving 9 months of full flying to accumulate 750 hours. That averages about 84 hours a month.


Thanks Hannah!

Go where you can build turbine time as much as you can. I built all my time on turbo prop before going into regional. Been with a regional less than a year and getting picked up by two legacies with no TPIC. That turbine time will make you stand out from all the other candidates

I agree, getting turbine time early and building as much as you can will help you stand out. I found that helped with my own app, having part 135 turbine PIC time. Congrats on getting your app pulled! Which legacy did you end up going with?


Decided to ride the blue tail lol