SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- JetBlue Airways (Nasdaq: JBLU), the largest carrier in Puerto Rico, today announces a new partnership with Inter- American University (IAU) of Puerto Rico, School of Aeronautics. IAU is the latest academic addition to JetBlue's University Gateway Program, a pilot talent pipeline in conjunction with university aviation programs and regional airlines. IAU is the airline's first school partnership in the Caribbean.
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.
"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.IAU 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. Earlier today, Warren Christie, vice president, operational planning and training at JetBlue Airways, and Manuel J. Fernos, president of Inter-American University of Puerto Rico officially signed the memorandum of understanding. JetBlue crewmembers as well as school administrators were on hand at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to celebrate the announcement. "We are 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," Mr. Christie said. "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. 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 (AABI) 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.