Education

JetBlue, Inter American Univ. partner to prepare pilots

From left: Cape Air executive Stephen Phillips Manuel Fernós and Warren Christie sign the MOU. From left: Cape Air executive Stephen Phillips Manuel Fernós and Warren Christie sign the MOU.

JetBlue Airways, Puerto Rico’s largest carrier, announced Wednesday a new partnership with Inter American University’s School of Aeronautics, which will now become part of the airline’s “University Gateway Program,” a pilot talent pipeline in conjunction with university aviation programs and regional airlines.

The Inter American University is the latest academic addition to JetBlue’s program and is the airline’s first school partnership in the Caribbean.

“We are the largest carrier in Puerto Rico and will continue to expand into the Caribbean and Latin American markets. Extending our University Gateway program to this region will ensure access to the best network of talent available,” said Bonny Simi, vice president, talent at JetBlue Airways.

JetBlue’s University Gateway program is a career planning and mentoring initiative designed to identify and recruit talented professionals into the pilot ranks. Through rigorous academic training and regional airline experience, the University Gateway program creates a clearly defined career path for aspiring pilots, beginning early in an aviator’s college career and culminating with the possibility of a final interview at JetBlue.

“Today we’re proud to announce the first partnership in Puerto Rico between JetBlue, Cape Air and Inter American University. We’re witnessing a great leap in the positioning of our School of Aeronautics to an international level,” said Inter American University President Manuel J. Fernós.

“We are grateful to JetBlue for selecting our university and allowing us to be part of this recognized educational program,” he said.

Inter American University joins JetBlue’s current roster of colleges and universities, which includes Auburn University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Jacksonville University and the University of North Dakota. The airline also partners with Massachusetts-based Cape Air as a regional airline partner, giving University Gateway participants valuable flying experience prior to interviewing at JetBlue.

During an event at JetBlue’s hub terminal at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina, Warren Christie, vice president, operational planning and training at JetBlue, and Fernós, officially signed the memorandum of understanding.

“We’re excited to expand the University Gateway program to Latin America. As JetBlue’s liaison to Inter American University, I look forward to providing guidance and opportunities for graduates of the School of Aeronautics by helping aviators on their path to becoming pilots for Cape Air and subsequently JetBlue Airways,” Christie said.

The University Gateway program is open to students at participating schools with high academic standing (GPA of 3.0 or above) and recommendations from their professors. It requires a successful series of interviews with JetBlue and a regional airline partner, as well as continued enrollment in an Aviation Accreditation Board International program.

During the Gateway program, participants intern at Cape Air or other regional airline partners, and then serve as an instructor at their respective flight school. Following that process, candidates fly with Cape Air for at least two years and then receive an interview at JetBlue.

“With the University Gateway program, we have the unique ability to cultivate pilots that will be a great fit for JetBlue. We’re able to identify the right candidates early on and interact with them throughout their academic and training career,” said Eric Poole, A320 captain and university gateway program project manager for JetBlue Airways.

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