- American Airlines chief Robert Isom said on Friday that the airline puts on the ground around 100 regional jets.
- However, he believes the problem “can be remedied” with the right compensation and incentives.
- United Airlines put 100 regional planes on the ground in December due to the lack of pilots.
The shortage of pilots continues to take a toll on US airlines, forcing some to park planes because there are not enough pilots to fly them.
American Airlines CEO Robert Isom told attendees at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions conference on Friday that the airline is putting around 100 regional jets on the ground due to the lack of pilots. The news was first reported by The Dallas Morning News.
“There is an imbalance between supply and demand right now, and it really is within the regional carriers,” he said. “We probably have a hundred planes – almost a hundred planes that are not, are not productive right now, that are not flying.”
The parked planes are smaller 50- and 76-seater jets, he explained. However, Isom said that American has compensated for the lack of frequencies by flying larger regional aircraft, such as the Embraer 175.
Despite the groundbreaking, Isom says that the company currently employs 2,000 pilots and believes that if “there are the appropriate incentives and it is the type of compensation that attracts people to the industry, then this is something that can be rectified.”
Isom’s comments come as the aviation industry struggles with the lack of pilots, especially with the busy summer travel season fast approaching. Regional airlines have been particularly affected as their pilots move to larger airlines.
Mesa Airlines CEO Jonathan Ornstein told CNBC in May that it would take about four months to replace a pilot who submitted two weeks’ notice to fly for a major airline, and that Mesa needed “about 200 pilots”.
While some airlines are reducing their fleet and laser-focusing on hiring, one company is trying to change the training requirements to get more pilots to fly faster.
In April, the regional airline Republic Airways, which flies on behalf of Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and the American Federal Aviation Administration, asked for permission to hire pilots from the LIFT training academy. Currently, most pilots need 1,500 hours to be hired by an airline, but Republic wants to cut it in half to 750 hours.
“The Republic does not propose to overturn the 1500-hour rule or weaken security; on the contrary, we propose a more intensive, mission-specific training path similar to that allowed for military pilots under current law,” said Republican CEO Bryan Bedford. a statement sent to Insider.
He stressed the importance of safety, and that the proposal is a computer-aided “path” that will “produce pilots with higher performance and at the same time reduce significant economic barriers to enable more diversity in our cockpits”.
There are already some exceptions in place that allow pilots to be hired with less training time. More specifically, those with two or four-year college degrees can be hired with 1250 and 1000 hours, respectively.
American is not the only airline that puts on the ground. In December, United Airlines announced it would park 100 regional jets amid the pilot shortage.
“The pilot shortage for the industry is real, and most airlines will simply not be able to realize their capacity plans because there are simply not enough pilots, at least not for the next five plus years,” United chief Scott Kirby said in quarterly earnings in April, CNBC reported.
The shortage worsened during the pandemic as the industry lost thousands of pilots due to early retirement, and carriers expect the low supply to continue as more reach the mandatory retirement age of 65, according to The Dallas Morning News.
To get more pilots to fly longer, Senator Lindsay Graham (RS.C.) may propose a bill that would raise the retirement age to 67, according to Aviation Weekly.
“Optically, it may seem like a riskier approach to cut the number of flight hours required than to let a healthy pilot continue flying for a few more years,” Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst and president of the Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider earlier.