Despite Airline Cutbacks, Pilot Trainees Wanted

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It seems counterintuitive that while Delta Air Lines is cutting 7,000 jobs and Alaska Air says 900 jobs will disappear, Delta's flight-school subsidiary is expanding and the airline is worried that a looming pilot shortage may cause flight cancellations -- but the juxtaposition shows to what degree the industry is in flux. Delta Connection Academy opens a new branch in Dayton, Ohio, this month, ready to train new pilots for regional jets, which are growing in number even as the "legacy" carriers like Delta struggle to avoid bankruptcy. Delta said last week it will expand its regional-jet fleet from 36 to 48 aircraft. Delta also faces disruption from a possible crew shortage, as pilots worried about the airline's future take advantage of a pension plan that allows them to retire early with big lump-sum payouts. If the loss of pilots can't be stemmed within a month, bankruptcy may be inevitable, the company said in a statement last week.