Delta Air Lines, through its Twin Cities-based En­deav­or Air re­gion­al sub­sid­iary, plans to es­tab­lish a pi­lot hir­ing plan that will es­sen­tial­ly guarantee a ca­reer path for qualified Endeavor pilots to the lar­ger, bet­ter-pay­ing in­ter­na­tion­al car­ri­er.

En­deav­or Air said the new hir­ing program, called the "En­deav­or-to-Delta Pi­lot Hir­ing and Com­mit­ment Program," will use Delta's "rig­or­ous hir­ing pro­to­col." And every qualified new En­deav­or pi­lot will re­ceive a com­mit­ment to be hired by Delta in the fu­ture.

"No oth­er re­gion­al air­line is pro­vid­ing new pil­ots with this level of com­mit­ment for fu­ture em­ploy­ment with a main­line car­ri­er," said En­deav­or Pres­i­dent Ryan Gumm in an interview with the Star Trib­une. "Iden­ti­fy­ing a clear ca­reer path is vi­tal­ly im­port­ant to pil­ots, and we've de­signed this program to help po­si­tion En­deav­or as a nat­u­ral first choice for the best pil­ots."

Don Bornhorst, Delta's seni­or vice pres­i­dent in charge of com­mut­er air­line af­fili­ates, said this is an advantage be­cause En­deav­or will at­tract ca­reer-fo­cused pil­ots. Delta will ­ben­e­fit from the fu­ture em­ploy­ment of pil­ots who have a clear un­der­stand­ing of the Delta brand, he added.

"Delta is hir­ing in a way that it hasn't for over a doz­en years,'' Bornhorst said. "Airlines are very sen­ior­i­ty-based. And now, once you are with En­deav­or, as­sum­ing you pass your train­ing, you'll go to Delta and be­come a first of­fi­cer."

Delta is hir­ing about 600 pil­ots an­nu­al­ly as it expands its operations while compensating for the loss of baby boomer pil­ots who must re­tire un­der fed­er­al regu­la­tions by age 65.

Nationally, a shortage of pilots is emerging, in part, because of fed­er­al­ly man­dat­ed in­creas­es in the hours that pro­spec­tive regional-jet pil­ots must fly be­fore they can be hired by a car­ri­er such as En­deav­or.

Paul Tem­ple­ton, a form­er Pied­mont Airlines cap­tain and re­gion­al jet program di­rec­tor for flight-train­ing school ATP, said Tuesday that he was im­pressed at first blush with the Delta-En­deav­or com­mit­ment, but re­served judgment un­til he learns more of the de­tails.

He noted that American Eagle, which con­nects with American Airlines flights, also has a flow-through pi­lot hir­ing a­gree­ment be­tween the car­ri­ers.

"En­deav­or, which has not been hir­ing, is back in the game," said Tem­ple­ton, also a blogger on re­gion­al car­ri­ers at "Delta is doing what it can. The ma­jor air­lines and regionals are facing a se­vere pi­lot short­age that's re­al­ly come on in the last year or two."

The Air Line Pil­ots Association, the un­ion that rep­re­sents Delta and En­deav­or pil­ots, declined to comment on Delta's joint-ca­reer plan on Tues­day.

En­deav­or, for­mer­ly known as Pin­na­cle Airlines, has about 4,000 employees, ­including near­ly 2,000 pil­ots. It pays its pil­ots from $35,000 to $100,000 a year, de­pend­ing upon sen­ior­i­ty and type of air­craft. About 400 head­quar­ters employees are based at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

To the consumer, regional car­ri­ers such as En­deav­or and Com­pass, also a Delta af­fili­ate, are indistinguishable from Delta.

Gumm said the pi­lot-train­ing plan is an­oth­er way in which En­deav­or is re­bound­ing as a top-flight pas­sen­ger car­ri­er. The airline was renamed Endeavor after the former Pinnacle Airlines emerged from bankruptcy in 2013.

At­lan­ta-based Delta, which ac­quired North­west Airlines in 2008, em­ploys near­ly 80,000 peo­ple around the globe and op­er­ates a fleet of 700 air­craft.

Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144