American Airlines will suspend service to four cities due to pilot shortages.
As of September 7, the airline will no longer serve Islip or Ithaca in New York, Toledo, Ohio or Dubuque, Iowa.
All four cities are currently served by AA’s regional affiliates and have up to two daily flights to larger hubs.
“We have 100 regional planes on the ground that we want to fly, but can’t due to a lack of regional pilots,” said Brian Metham, an American Airlines spokesperson. “Like many network carriers, we have reduced our regional flights in recent months in response to the regional pilot shortage.”
American will continue to serve other airports less than 100 miles from each of the four cities that will lose service. The airline said it is taking other steps, including raising rates for regional pilots, to make its operation more reliable this summer.
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What does American pilots offer?
Pilots worry, however, that these cuts are just a sign of things to come.
“If you look at the deal they (American) sent to the wholly-owned regional pilots, that’s for two years,” said Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents the U.S. pilots, referring to the higher wages American’s affiliates will offer their pilots. “They think they will have problems for two years. That tells us that.”
Tajer, who is also an active 737 pilot with the airline, said the men and women in the cockpit are as frustrated as passengers are by the airline’s problems this summer.
“You sold tickets in the spring that you knew you wouldn’t be able to fulfill this summer,” he said, adding that more than 600,000 U.S. passengers have been affected by cancellations and delays so far in June, citing internal company data.
Pilot shortages are an industry-wide problem and come as demand for summer travel begins to pick up. The Transportation Security Administration has screened more than 2.4 million people Friday, the highest number since November 2021.
Meanwhile, pilot unions at Delta, American and Southwest have said airlines have been unable to replenish positions left by pilots who retired or took leave during the pandemic. Staffing issues are one of the reasons travelers faced thousands of airline cancellations and delays over the weekend, said James Ferrara, co-founder and president of global travel agency InteleTravel.
American Airlines’ move follows Delta Air Lines’ announcement last month that it would cut daily flights this summer as demand for travel grows. The airline canceled 100 daily flights between July 1 and August 7 to “improve operational reliability” for customers and employees.
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Contributors: Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY.
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