Flying Magazine reports the comments come from presentations by executives from American Airlines and Delta Air Lines at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference.
Lack of Pilots Results in Parked Airplanes
During the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines offered pilots voluntary separation and early retirement packages to reduce payroll and maintain business operations. With more travelers having the confidence to travel once again, the airlines say getting those pilots back into the system is proving very problematic.
Speaking at the conference, new American chief executive Robert Isom said his carrier is currently forced to ground around 100 aircraft in their fleet because of a lack of staffing. Complicating things even more, Isom said that with air travel ramping up, they foresee problems with onboarding new aviators to get airframes back in the skies.
“There is a supply and demand imbalance right now, and it is within the regional carrier ranks,” Isom said, as quoted by Flying. “We don’t have the pilots that we need to fly a full regional schedule.”
American isn’t the only carrier facing trouble in getting pilots back in the air. At the same conference, Delta chief executive Ed Bastion told attendees that they are experiencing a backlog in training and preparing new pilots to start flying.
“Pilots are a constraint in the system right now, and I think they’ll be a constraint for some time,” Bastian said, as quoted by Flying. “There are constraints around pilots–we’re hiring 2,000 pilots this year; getting them all through training is a real task.”
Although hiring and training issues are creating constraints today, there may be good news for the industry ahead. The Air Line Pilots Association, representing captains and first officers at several major airlines, says around 8,000 pilots were trained in the 12-month period ending May 2022. In a statement, the union claims that pilots are available, but carriers are more focused on cost-cutting measures.
Regional Pilot Issues Continue to Plague Carriers
The lack of pilots available for regional assignments is not a new issue for the industry. In March 2022, SkyWest Airlines asked permission from the U.S. Department of Transportation to cut 29 cities from their regional network. Regulators denied the request unless another airline could be identified to provide the essential services.
Source: frugal travel guy