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Former Independence Air employees enter marketplace

by Tahna Stanley 10. January 2006 12:29

Former Independence Air employees enter marketplace

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Former Independence Air employees enter marketplace
By George Gill

Although Independence Air's final flights landed last Thursday, a job fair at parent company Flyi Inc.'s headquarters in Dulles kept hopes aloft for former employees hoping to find a new job quickly.

Hundreds of suddenly jobless workers – from pilots to baggage handlers – came face to face with officials from the Virginia Employment Commission and dozens of employers last Friday.

The event was "completely organic" in the wake of the company's announcement Jan. 2 that it was closing, said Laura Thornton, Flyi's employee communications specialist.

Audrey Muhammad, left, of Adamstown, Md., a former customer advocacy specialist at Independence Air, talks with Michael Amiri, right, of IntelliDyne, at the job fair at the Independence Air headquarters in Sterling Friday.
Career, job search resources
  • Virginia Employment Commission services page: http://www.vec.virginia.gov/vecportal/services.cfm
  • Loudoun Workforce Resource Center, in the Shenandoah Building, 102 Heritage Way, NE #200, Leesburg. Phone: 703-777-0150.
  • Resume faxing: Charles Partley, owner of The UPS Store at 525K E. Market St., Leesburg, said he is offering to fax resumes for Independence Air workers for free (normally about a $1.50 service).
  • Avjobs.com: All former Independence Air workers are eligible for free Avjobs Cares Re-Employment Services, offered by national aviation job search site Avjobs.com. Details online at http://www.avjobs.com/care/Care.pdf

“We started receiving calls from all over, both local and nationwide, wanting to help,” Thornton said. “I think it was more that people enjoyed Independence Air, appreciated who we are and figured our employees are a nice catch.”

She said the fair attracted about 50 employers. “More were begging to get in, and we ran out of space,” she said. Hundreds of employees came out, and “some were hired on the spot,” she said.

Robert Steindler, director of employee services for Flyi Inc., said employers covered the gamut of white-collar and blue-collar jobs, from major and regional airlines to job placement agencies to IT firms to Budweiser. “It was great how many people wanted to give something to help our employees to file unemployment claims or to find another job.”

Steindler said information on companies at the fair was added to the company's intranet. There are 75 firms on the list.

Steindler is part of Flyi's “wind down team,” a group of about 180 employees asked to stay on from several weeks to several months.

He said another good thing for former employees is that the bankruptcy court has approved Flyi's petition to extend health care benefits to former employees for 60 days.

Janis Chamblin, division manager for Loudoun County Career Support Services and head of The Loudoun Workforce Resource Center, was at the job fair along with Virginia Employment Commission officials. Chamblin said she spoke with about 150 employees over about a 2 1/2-half hour period.

“Most employees were interested in accessing some type of training,” she said. “Some were applying for unemployment benefits.”

She said many employees who live outside of Virginia asked whether they should apply for unemployment benefits in their home state or in Virginia. Chamblin said they may apply for unemployment benefits in either state.

Chamblin said one pilot she talked to had grown tired of being laid off as a pilot and was looking into entering the home building business.

A mechanic she met with had been laid off three times over a five- to seven-year period and had decided to get out of the industry, she said.

Many of the employees she talked to had decided to move out of the area.

Ross Lipscomb, a pilot with Atlantic Coast Airlines and Independence Air for 10 years, was heading to California for an interview with a corporate jet operation based in Wilmington, Del., his mother, Gloria, said.

Brian Lloyd, a former Independence Air crew scheduler, said quite a few airlines were hiring at the fair but were primarily from out of the area and would require relocation. Lloyd said he and his wife have all their family in the Northern Virginia area and have no interest in moving. He said he had last week been able to get an interview with a local airline, but several others had applied for the job as well and it went to someone else.

Tim Lahey, president of Littleton, Colo.-based aviation employment services company Avjobs.com, said that, depending on the position, other neighboring airlines usually are happy to pick up some of the former employees of defunct airlines. Besides having a proven track record with their previous airline, the former employees also usually have current security clearances and require less training.

He said his site offers a “Cares” program for displaced aviation workers. Lahey said several former Independence Air employees have enrolled in the program, which provides six months free access to the site's applicant system.
Contact the reporter at ggill@timespapers.com


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