‘Pilot Shortage for the Industry is Real’: Airline CEOs Speak Out About Massive Flight Cancellations

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CNBC reports that the “pilot shortage” in the airline industry is “real.” Many airlines will be unable to meet their capacity plans due to the lack of pilots.

Business Insider notes how the pilot shortage has led to many flight cancellations across the country. Airlines have also cut regional planes.

United CEO Scott Kirby said, “The pilot shortage for the industry is real, and most airlines are simply not going to be able to realize their capacity plans because there simply aren’t enough pilots, at least not for the next five-plus years.”

Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci recently apologized for flight cancellations by explaining “we had 63 fewer pilots than what we planned for when we built our scheduled,” which he said led to a “ripple effect.”

“By the time we caught this error, April and May schedules were bid on by our pilots and flight attendants, making it impossible to sufficiently adjust schedules to avoid cancellations,” he said.

To address the problem, some U.S. carriers have announced they would “reduce the requirements needed to become a pilot in order to get more into the air.”

These reductions in requirements may include ending degree requirements, halving the number of flight hours needed, and increasing the pilot retirement age from 65 to 67.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is reportedly considering introducing this legislation into the U.S. Senate.

Delta announced, “While we feel as strongly as ever about the importance of education, there are highly qualified candidates – people who we would want to welcome to our Delta family – who have gained more than the equivalent of a college education through years of life and leadership experience.”

“Making the four-year degree requirement preferred removes unintentional barriers to our Delta flight decks.”

Republic Airways has also requested that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) give permission to hire pilots out of their training academy when they have reached 750 flight hours. This is half the number currently required.

Daily Wire notes, “Families of the victims who died in the Colgan Air 3407 crash in 2009 have pushed back on the suggestion. That crash, the last fatal U.S. passenger commercial airline crash, according to CNBC, resulted in the 1,500 flight hours requirement.”

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