Will Short-Haul Flights Be Reduced or Eliminated?

Published: 12-09-2019
Climate puts short-haul flights are under the microscope. Let's take a look.

As a major emitter of carbon, the aviation industry is constantly adjusting to public concerns about climate change and the environment, as well as potential regulatory hurdles. In Europe, two airlines have targeted short-haul flights for reduction in order to mitigate these greenhouse gases.

KLM and Austrian Airlines are cutting some of their common short-haul flights in favor of transportation via rail. Of course, with short-haul flights being reduced, more space in the airport will open up to accommodate long-haul flights, so it’s unclear whether or not a reduction of short-haul flights will result in the intended effects regarding the total emissions of carbon.

Southwest Recently Increased Short-Haul

Although the flight reductions are being made in Europe, the move will be heavily monitored by other airliners around the world. As recent as 2018, Southwest actually said they would bulk up thier short-haul flights, which they had initially reduced in the aftermath of 9/11 and the Great Recession.

But if public pressure focues on short-haul flights, other airlines may have to follow the lead of KLM and Austrian Airlines.

In addition to Southwest, the following airlines commonly run short-haul:

  • American

  • United

  • JSX

  • Frontier

We are in the preliminary stages of discussing short-haul flights as they relate to carbon emissions, but this will be an area of regulatory importance to pay attention to.

The other question is: What happens to short-haul pilots if their flights are dropped?

Short Haul in the US vs the EU

In the EU, short-haul flights are used to help rookie pilots train up. By flying these shorter routes, new pilots get acquainted with being at the helm and build experience before taking on longer flights. As a result, they are much more common in the EU.

In the US, short-haul flights are gaining popularity. These flights, typically defined as those under 500 miles, are becoming a cheap alternative for weekend travelers, especially with online sites dedicated to finding the cheapest rates.

Due to popularity, short-haul flights will likely see inaction on a federal level, but states that are more active on issues of climate, such as California, may keep their eye on short haul. Especially as intra-California flights are one of the burgeoning areas of growth identified by Southwest.

What About Pilots?

Because there is no proposed action on longer flights, pilots should be able to make the transition. This will come with new aspects to the job – more weather scenarios to consider, longer time in the sky, straying further from your domicile, etc. Fatigue from jet lag will also be a big shift for pilots making the shift from short to long haul.

Do you fly short haul? What do you think of this new development from Europe? Let us know in our forums.