Pilot shortages interfere with summer travel and hurt industry rebound efforts – The Ticker

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The US airline industry is suffering from a shortage of pilots, forcing a record number of flight cancellations as the busy summer travel season begins.

The number of active pilots fell from 84,520 to 81,310 between 2019 and 2021, according to a report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry suffered significant losses when the COVID-19 pandemic nearly halted all travel to curb the spread of the virus.

National airlines were hoping for strong turnout when coronavirus vaccines become more accessible, especially during the year-end holidays which involve gatherings. Confidence plummeted when the omicron variant COVID-19 threatened another surge in November 2021.

Despite the inflation surge ticket prices up 25%, airlines see increased demand for travel, up 25% from pre-pandemic travel, according to a report from Mastercard Inc.’s Institute of Economics. This push is assigned to reduce travel restrictions and business-related travel returns.

transportation security administration projected more than 2.4 million travelers on June 17, the Friday before June 19. That’s about 400,000 travelers at the same time in 2021 and about 100,000 from May 27, the Friday before Memorial Day.

While this was apparently positive for airlines, they also had to deal with a wave of cancellations over the weekend, including more than 3,200 flights from June 17 to June 18, according to the statistics database. . FlightAware.

“The pilot shortage for the industry is real,” United Airlines Inc. CEO Scott Kirby said at the company’s press conference. first quarter call for earnings. “Most airlines simply won’t be able to meet their capacity plans because there just aren’t enough pilots, at least not for the next five years.”

Since announcing it would cut 100 flights a day in May, Delta Air Lines Inc. has expressed optimism about its weekend cancellations drop 35%, but the problem persists.

“This phase of our recovery has been the most challenging,” John Laughter, Delta’s chief operating officer, said in a statement. Press release. “We’ve never had to bring the airline back to this speed before.”

American Airlines Inc. has announced that it will end service to Islip and Ithaca, New York and Toledo, Ohio on September 7 due to shortages, according to fox business.

To prevent further side effects, United announcement a $100 million project on June 1 to expand its training center and allow more potential pilots to be trained and hired. The airline aims to add 2,000 new pilots by the end of 2022 and to have 10,000 by 2030.

Kirby announcement that the airline has also reached an agreement regarding its employment contract with its union Air Line Pilots Association.

Meanwhile, in January, Delta said it would turn its four-year degree requirement for pilots into a recommendation in a bid to increase new hires.

“While we believe more than ever in the importance of education, there are highly qualified candidates – people we would like to welcome into our Delta family – who have acquired more than the equivalent of a university education in over their years of life and leadership experience,” Delta wrote in a statement.

Some companies like American, JetBlue Airways Corp. and Southwest Airlines Co., offered pilots a pay rise as an incentive, but American faced backlash from its Allied Pilots Association union for appearing desperate.

“It’s good for the pilots who get these raises, but when you have an airline that offers a pay raise of more than 50%, they recognize with the money that they have a problem,” said the door. – APA spokesperson, Dannis Tajer. CNBC.

american already lost $61 million in the fourth quarter of 2021 due to the shortage. Time will tell if any of the airlines’ efforts will help end the pilot shortage and boost profits, but it may be too soon to tell before the next major weekend travel vacation. end of July 4th.

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