Welcome to the Empire Airlines Newsroom! For media inquiries, please call (208) 292-3850 or use the link below for our website contact form.

Empire Airlines pilots can transition to FedEx through updated Purple Runway program

HAYDEN, IDAHO – Pilot shortages have made it challenging for FedEx feeder Empire Airlines to recruit and retain pilots. The Hayden-based feeder operator has even dangled hiring bonuses of $30,000 or more for some positions.

New updates to the Purple Runway FedEx Pathways Program, including eliminating the requirement of a college degree, could give Empire Airlines a much-needed recruiting advantage.  

“Since FedEx launched Purple Runway in 2018, we’ve been able to offer pilots a chance to build the experience and skills to become pilots for FedEx,” said Empire Airlines CEO and Chairman of the Board Tim Komberec. “It definitely helped in our recruiting efforts, and the changes FedEx has made to the program will have an even greater impact.”

Empire Airlines pilots who successfully complete the Purple Runway program are guaranteed jobs with FedEx.  

In addition to removing the college degree requirement, FedEx has eliminated a six-month wait for pilots to join Purple Runway. The changes shorten a training process that typically takes years, getting new pilots in the cockpit much sooner.

“There are many experienced and qualified pilots who do not have a college degree,” Komberec said. “Now those pilots have a direct career path to FedEx through Empire Airlines.”

Founded in 1977, Empire Airlines operates for FedEx out of 16 bases in Idaho, Washington, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, California, Alaska, Arizona and Texas. Empire Airlines has been a FedEx Feeder airline since 1988 and is the largest regional operator for FedEx.

For information on the Purple Runway Pathways Program visit