Texas-based American Airlines will be cancelling flights to Ithaca and Islip, New York, as well as Toledo, Ohio, in September, blaming a lack of pilots, according to local reports.
“In response to the regional pilot shortage affecting the airline industry, American Airlines has made the difficult decision to end service,” American Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Koos told the Dallas Morning News.
“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.”
Service to those cities will end Sept. 7. American Airlines said it was reaching out to customers scheduled to fly to or from those cities after that date.
Across the board, the industry is facing a pilot shortage caused by thousands of retirements and buyouts meant to save airlines money during the COVID-19 pandemic, when travel had dwindled. Post-pandemic travel picked up faster than airlines expected, leaving carriers to scramble to find people to fly planes.
The staffing shortages led to another chaotic weekend for travelers. During the Juneteenth holiday Sunday, 921 flights nationwide were canceled. An additional 6,228 domestic flights were delayed.
The pilot drought impacted regional carriers, like American Eagle, the most. Those pilots are often recruited to work at bigger airlines where pay, benefits and schedules are better.