American Airlines cites pilot shortage in decision to stop flying to 4 airports

A pilot shortage has prompted American Airlines to end services beginning in September to some airports in Iowa, New York and Ohio, the company has announced.

The services, according to a company statement to NBC News on Wednesday, will cease Sept. 7 at the Dubuque Regional Airport in Iowa; the Long Island MacArthur Airport and the Ithaca Tompkins International Airport, which are in New York; and the Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport in Ohio.

American Airlines pilots picket outside Miami International Airport on March 23 as contract negotiations stretched into their third year, according to the Allied Pilots Association.Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The “regional pilot shortage affecting the airline industry” was cited in an American Airlines statement as the reason prompting the “difficult decision” to cut ties with the four airports.

“We’re extremely grateful for the care and service our team members provided to our customers in Dubuque, Islip, Ithaca and Toledo, and are working closely with them during this time. We’ll proactively reach out to customers scheduled to travel after this date to offer alternate arrangements,” the airline statement said.

American Airlines currently flies twice a day from the four affected airports, the company said.

In a statement from the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority on behalf of the Toledo airport, the agency said:

“We are incredibly disappointed to learn American Airlines’ decision to cancel service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) out of Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport (TOL) beginning September 7, 2022. Please note, this decision was made solely by the airline, primarily due to a shortage of regional pilots. Unfortunately, we understand this is a current continued trend in the aviation industry. The Port Authority continues to meet with various airline representatives multiple times a year in an effort to increase our air service out of TOL.”

A spokesperson for MacArthur Airport said in a statement that officials hope to one day resume a partnership with American Airlines and “are hopeful that this service adjustment will not be permanent.”

Representatives with the two others affected airports were not immediately reached Wednesday for comment.

More than 1,300 Southwest Airlines pilots stood on a picket line Tuesday in Dallas, voicing concerns about what they say are unfair working conditions and inadequate pay, according to the pilots union.

“The Pilots of Southwest have been in contract negotiations with the company for more two years with no meaningful movement toward a new contract,” the union said in a statement to NBC News, adding that “pilot fatigue rates have reached an all-time high .”

Pilots from across the commercial airline industry have called attention to chronic staffing shortages that have forced carriers to either delay or cancel flights.

Bryan Logan and Rob Wile contributed.

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