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Pilot Shortage Spells Disaster For Small Airports, Regional Airlines

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Sarah Weaver Staff Writer
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A shortage of pilots is clobbering small airports and regional airlines across the country, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Airline pilots are getting hired by bigger carriers, forcing smaller airports to offer fewer flights, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Some commercial airlines, such as SkyWest Airlines, are ceasing operations in a number of small cities altogether.

Regional airlines shutting down particularly hurts smaller communities, for whom a regional airline is, “their only link to the broader aviation network,” according to WSJ.

FILE PHOTO: Delta airplanes are seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport during the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Queens, New York City, U.S., December 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

FILE PHOTO: Delta airplanes are seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport during the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Queens, New York City, U.S., December 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

The pilot shortage occurs just as travel is picking up after the Covid-19 pandemic. Airlines are providing 11% more seating this summer than last, WSJ reported.

The Vice President of an Indianapolis-based regional airline, Matt Koscal, was skeptical about the prospects for recovery.

“I wish that I could say it’s already getting ready to improve, but it’s not. It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Koscal said, according to WSJ.

Rising fuel prices have also made it harder for airlines to make uncommon routes through smaller cities in a cost-effective manner, WSJ reported. (RELATED: Gas Prices Climb Overnight To Astronomical Record)

Some airlines in smaller cities, such as Elko, Nevada, are offering only one flight a day.

“This is a little bit more than an inconvenience for our community,” Curtis Calder, Elko’s city manager, told the WSJ.