American Airlines will cut service to four cities because of a pilot shortage.
As of Sept. 7, the airline will no longer serve Islip or Ithaca in New York; Toledo, Ohio; or Dubuque, Iowa.
All four cities are currently served by AA's regional affiliates and have up to two daily flights to larger hubs.
"We have 100 regional aircraft on the ground that we want to fly but can’t due to lack of regional pilots," American Airlines spokesperson Brian Metham said in a statement. "Like many network carriers, we have reduced our regional flying in recent months in response to the regional pilot shortage."
American will continue serving other airports less than 100 miles from each of the four cities that are losing service. The airline said it is taking other steps, including boosting regional pilot pay rates, to make its operation more reliable this summer.
Pilots, however, worry that these cuts are just a sign of things to come.
"If you look at the deal they (American) sent to the wholly owned, the regional pilots, that's for two years," said Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American's aviators, referring to the higher pay rates American's affiliates will offer their pilots. "They think they're going to have issues for two years. That's what that tells us."
Tajer, who is also an active 737 pilot at the airline, said the men and women on the flight deck are just as frustrated as passengers by the airline's issues this summer.
"You sold tickets in the spring that you knew you wouldn't be able to fulfill this summer," he said, adding that so far in June, over 600,000 American passengers have been affected by cancellations and delays citing internal company data.
The pilot shortage has been an industrywide issue and comes as summer travel demand is starting to surge. The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2.4 million people Friday, the highest tally since November 2021.
Meanwhile, pilot unions at Delta, American and Southwest have said airlines haven’t been able to refill positions left by pilots who retired or took leaves of absence during the pandemic. The staffing issues are one of the reasons travelers faced thousands of airline cancellations and delays this past weekend, according to James Ferrara, co-founder and president of global host travel agency InteleTravel.
American Airlines' move follows Delta Air Lines' announcement last month that it would cut daily flights this summer as travel demand heats up. The airline cut 100 daily flights between July 1 and August 7 to “improve operational reliability” for customers and employees.