In yet another sign of the sweeping effects the ongoing pilot shortage is having on the airline industry, American Airlines confirmed this week that it will be ending service to four U.S. cities due to the lack of necessary pilots.
The move is “in response to the regional pilot shortage affecting the airline industry,” American said in a statement sent to AFAR.
Consequently, American is ending service to these four cities, effective September 7:
- Dubuque, Iowa
- Islip, New York
- Ithaca, New York
- Toledo, Ohio
American told AFAR that the carrier currently has 100 regional aircraft on the ground “that we want to fly but can’t due to lack of regional pilots.”
“That shortage could loom for some time,” American added. The hope, according to the airline, is that it will be able to operate “a more reliable regional schedule in the future.”
American’s American Eagle division consists of three regional carriers that are subsidiaries of the American Airlines Group and fly to smaller hubs throughout the country: Envoy Air Inc., Piedmont Airlines Inc., and PSA Airlines Inc.
“We’re extremely grateful for the care and service our team members provided to our customers in Dubuque, Islip, Ithaca and Toledo, and are working closely with them during this time. We’ll proactively reach out to customers scheduled to travel after this date to offer alternate arrangements,” American stated.
American currently flies twice daily from Dubuque (DBQ) and Toledo (TOL) to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and flies from Islip (ISP) and Ithaca (ITH) to Philadelphia (PHL) up to twice daily.
Customers affected by the service cuts will have some nearby options, however.
For Dubuque fliers, American will continue to serve Quad Cities International Airport in Moline, Illinois (72 miles from Dubuque), Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids (78 miles from Dubuque), and Waterloo Regional Airport in Iowa (102 miles from Dubuque). For fliers in New York, American will continue to fly out of Newark International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Buffalo Niagara International Airport, Greater Rochester International Airport, and Syracuse Hancock International Airport. Toledo fliers will have continued service via Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, 67 miles from Toledo.
American is just the latest airline to scale back on service due to a number of hurdles that carriers face as air travelers return to the skies at a pace that is overrunning the planes, pilots, flight attendants, and ground crew to handle them.
United Airlines suspended seven long-haul flights this month due to a delay in getting its Boeing 777s back into the air. That came after JetBlue Airways announced that it would be proactively slashing its summer schedule by 10 percent in order to “add more buffer room throughout the day to make up for operational disruptions and put less stress on its crew resources,” according to a statement from JetBlue president Joanna Geraghty.
Alaska Airlines also cut its flights through June by about 2 percent in an effort to minimize disruptions, and Southwest Airlines trimmed around 8,000 flights from its June schedule, after axing 14,500 flights from March through May.
But the disruptions have been continuing despite these efforts—thousands of flights were canceled this past weekend alone as travelers brace for a turbulent summer of air travel ahead.