Could the Airline Pilot Shortage Ruin Thanksgiving?

Published: 11-05-2018
Pilots are in demand. So are Thanksgiving Day flights. What will happen?

Turkey with anti circle

After the economic recession, both flights and pilots weren’t in high demand. But now, thanks to an improved economy, more people are flying. Airline travel has gone up 15% since 2007. And that means more trips for Thanksgiving to visit friends and family.

The problem is that an increase in pilots didn’t rise to meet an increase in the demand for flights. Airline consolidation further hurt that cause by limiting wage growth, and training requirements now demand that pilots log 1,500 training hours. As a result, airlines are desperate for pilots.

Could the Airline Pilot Shortage Ruin Thanksgiving?

While the airline pilot shortage is unlikely to hit major metropolitan areas, the lack of pilots could hurt those traveling to smaller cities. In fact, airlines have already canceled flights simply because no pilots were available.

For Thanksgiving travelers using regional airlines, their flight availabilities could be severely limited. And if a flight gets delayed or canceled, that traveler could have serious problems explaining the situation to their family.

This problem is further exacerbated because the major airlines pull talented pilots from the regional airlines because they, too, are in need of pilots. The regional airlines then have to fight even harder to hire more pilots.

The Silver Lining for Pilots

Pilots in the sky tend to realize that clouds have their silver linings. For these pilots, the shortage has led to an increase in wages and benefits. Despite a sustained attack on unions, pilot salaries are on the rise.

Being an airline pilot is a demanding job, with strict schedules and often long commutes by air. The shortage of pilots provides leverage to demand higher pay, and the collective power of pilots helps to make this a reality.

How Should Airlines Solve the Shortage?

In addition to raising pay, however, there are still more questions about the shortage. Is the 1,500 training rule too demanding? What could make young people more interested in this profession?

How would you solve the shortage? Let us know in our forums.


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