Due to an industry pilot shortage, American Airlines will be stopping service in three cities: Islip and Ithaca, New York, and Toledo, Ohio, starting Sept. 7, according to Fox News.

The news: “We’re extremely grateful for the care and service our team members provided to our customers in Islip, Ithaca and Toledo, and are working closely with them at this time,” American Airlines said in a statement, according to Fox.

  • Andrea Koos, a spokesperson for the airline, said in a statement that anyone traveling to or from these areas after Sept. 7 should make other travel plans, per Dallas Morning News.

A record-breaking travel spike: The Transportation Security Administration counted around 2.44 million people at airports on Friday, via The Hill. This is more than any other recorded day since Nov. 28, 2021.

Can airlines fill this demand? When the pandemic was at its peak in 2020, airlines encouraged some pilots to retire early. Once the demand for air travel rose again, there were not enough pilots, according to CNBC.

  • “Attrition of the regional pilots, particularly the captains, has really spiked to the point where we’re not able to put our fleet in the air,” Eric Morgan, the CEO of Piedmont, told CNBC.
  • American Airlines stated that it has 100 aircraft on the ground right now due to the pilot shortage, according to WFAA, an ABC affiliate in Dallas. The company stated that this shortage is expected to stick around for quite some time.
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Summer travel trouble: The shortage has already created some trouble for the summer traveling season.

  • “Hundreds of flights have been canceled and thousands more delayed over the last week. Airlines have blamed the travel issues on bad weather, COVID-19 absence and staff shortages,” WFAA reported.
  • Pilots have also accused airlines of overbooking flights, which has caused stress for both pilots and travelers, per WFAA.

Attempted pilot retention: In order to combat this shortage, American Airlines has offered pay raises for pilots, according to USA Today.

  • CNBC says the airline is increasing pilot pay by 50%.

However, an Arizona CBS affiliate states that there are other financial barriers contributing to the pilot shortage.

  • “Pilots-in-training are not eligible for traditional student loans for flight school,” CBS reported.
  • “It’s not like getting a degree at a university with FAFSA and government financial solutions. For the most part, students are pretty much on their own to work out how they’re going to pay for and access the career path,” said James Constable, a spokesperson for an Arizona flight training center.
  • He said that airlines are going to need hundreds of thousands of pilots worldwide to combat this shortage that, according to CBS, is forecast to last up to 20 years.
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