(The Hill) – American Airlines will eliminate service for three cities following the Labor Day holiday weekend as a result of staffing shortages, marking the latest hiccup for the airline industry amid thousands of cancellations and cuts in recent months.
An airline spokesperson said the company will drop service to Toledo, Ohio; Ithaca, New York.; and Islip, New York, on Sept. 7 in response to a “regional pilot shortage.”
“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 during this time,” the spokesperson said in an email to The Hill. “We’ll proactively reach out to customers scheduled to travel after this date to offer alternate arrangements.”
Travel demand has surged, with large numbers of Americans taking trips for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The Transportation Security Administration said it screened about 2.44 million people at airports on Friday, a total greater than any other day since Nov. 28, 2021.
Meanwhile, airlines have struggled to keep up with rising demand after shedding millions of jobs at the height of the pandemic, driving prices higher. Thousands of flights were canceled or delayed this past weekend ahead of Father’s Day and Juneteenth.
Delta Air Lines cut 100 flights from its daily schedule between July 1 and Aug. 7, and the company’s pilots wrote an open letter to customers published Thursday saying they were flying a “record amount” of overtime to reduce the high number of cancellations. Other airlines have cut back on their schedules as well. Southwest Airlines cut 20,000 flights this summer, The Dallas Morning News reported.
American is also making changes to eight other routes, which the airline spokesperson said is to better match the current demand environment. All of those routes include one of the airline’s hub airports as an origin or destination city.
Three regional carriers wholly owned by American — PSA Airlines, Envoy Air, and Piedmont Airlines — recently announced contract agreements with American that include “significant pay increases” as part of efforts to attract and retain pilots, according to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), a pilot union that represents the employees.
Pilots working at PSA Airlines, which operates 800 daily flights for American, will receive an additional 50 percent pay raise for two years. “The new PSA agreements will not only help PSA hire and retain quality pilots, but will set the standard for other regional carriers to follow suit,” John Ebbert, chair of the ALPA’s PSA pilot group, said in a statement.