American Parks 100 Regional Jets, Others Cut Schedules


American Airlines has parked about 100 regional jets because it can’t get enough pilots to fly them. CEO Robert Isom told an investor conference regional carriers are hardest hit by the pilot shortage. “There is a supply and demand imbalance right now, and it really is within the regional carrier ranks,” the Dallas Morning News reported him as saying. “We have probably 100 aircraft or almost 100 aircraft that aren’t productive right now, that aren’t flying.” The loss of the aircraft, mostly smaller planes with about 50 seats, has been blunted somewhat by the use of larger aircraft by the regionals.

Isom’s comments came on the heels of Southwest’s announcement that it was cutting 20,000 flights from its summer schedule, and JetBlue and Delta are also reducing service. On a brighter note, Alaska Airlines is climbing out of a chaotic two months that canceled thousands of flights, many of them while passengers were at the gate. Despite all the problems, TravelPulse is reporting that most airlines are expecting a travel boom this summer despite fares increasing an average of 48 percent over pre-pandemic prices.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. A pilot shortage? No other reason(s)? Like, high cost of flying? Supply chain problems? (Maintenance.) Govt & Central Bank caused inflation, so that even if ticket costs weren’t up, hardly anyone has the disposable income to fly? Etc.

    • The article says the airline industry is expecting an increase in passengers, despite the increase in fares. And I believe that, because I’ve seen more cars on the road than I have in the past 2 years, despite the increase in gasoline prices. People seem determined to not waste this summer this year.

      • Tnx. What a trade group expects, and what is Reality are two different things. (Remember we were told that “Inflation will be ‘transitory'”?) And a return to what once was is not growth. I’ll wait to see what happens.

        In the meantime, as it goes to car travel, I was trying to listen for the usual Triple-A reports about expected Holiday Travel over the Memorial Day weekend. If they had any, I missed them. But my personal experience, taking a quick (flying) vacation to Oceano (California) (L52) was that Memorial Day was a bust. Hardly any pilots flew in to the airport campground. The local county campground next to the airport campground was vacant. Hwy 1 was unusually traffic free. My favorite Restaurant was empty Tuesday. In fact, I was forced to overnight in the resort town of Big Bear later that week (due to a problem with the plane). Despite the start of “Summer Vacation,” I was able to obtain a room, for cheap. And the local eateries all had closed by 7 pm, apparently for lack of business. (So I had to order a medium sized Domino’s pizza for $30 after tip. THAT is not going to last.)

  2. I observed a rush-to-the-bottom of the barrel of new “pilots” at my last job as a sim instructor/examiner. Kids showing up with epaulets and black ties whose most recent automation learning experience was the electric-windows in the taxicab taking them to the airport. Have you ever witnessed a stall-recovery-technique such as punching the “Engage” button on the autopilot? I have.

    Soo… who wants to fly behind the new-hires?

    • What is worse is being a Captain flying with one of those “rush to the bottom of the barrel” FO’s. I hate having to train a new FO, student and private pilot items that should have been learned before getting to the Commercial or ATP level.

  3. You always see these articles, pilot shortage, pilot shortage, pilot shortage yet NO ONE covers the mechanic shortage at all. The maintenance shortage is FAR worse than the pilot shortage by far. I can not find any mechanics for our business. When I am at the IA seminar renewals each year, over 80% of the IA;s in attendance are over the age of 50. Once they have enought pilots they will be all sitting at the gate waiting on maintenance.

    • And not only mechanics, but part shortages/inflation. While waiting in line at the gas pump at an XC airport, another aircraft ran into my rudder. The Flight School that I rent from was able to borrow a rudder off of another plane and flew it out (along with a mechanic) for a quick swap to get me home.

      In the process, I heard the talk of prices for used rudders. What used to be a $3000 part is now a $7000 part.

      Assuming that the airlines are similarly affected, this does not bode well for anyone.

    • You nailed it! Especially for General Aviation. While some pilots say “the pilot shortage won’t affect ME–they ignore the existential threat of the mechanic shortage. Here in Minnesota, mechanics are “aging out” and retiring–and there are not nearly enough mechanic graduates coming out of schools.

      There aren’t nearly enough mechanics to service the existing GA fleet–they either retire, or go straight from school to the airlines, corporate, or big FBOs. I operate a GA airport, and offer free hangar space, free utilities, the use of my shop equipment, access to my parts inventory, and use of my FAA approved pitot/static/transponder check equipment to anybody that wants to run their own business–AND, will be their best customer on maintaining my own 9 rental airplanes. So far, no takers.

      THAT’S how short it has become!

    • Like a many of us that fly, it was always a dream to wrench planes and learn how it all works, so I took advantage of the pandemic out-of-office to cram in an A&P.
      I graduated last year feeling very sad about aviation’s future – like visiting your friend in hospice: you hope for the best but it’s not looking too good.
      I have several “real” degrees that are well compensated for in my day job, but getting an A&P was the hardest thing I’ve done. If you really want to know what the heck you’re talking about as an A&P you need dedicate years to absorb even a fraction of what you’d need to know about all the systems, materials and processes that make up even a “simple” GA plane that is based on 1930s technology. I trust the signature of maybe 4 of my 40 classmates to fix my plane. The other 90% have years of apprenticeship ahead of them to be competent, even with their A&P ticket in hand.

      What jobs are my new A&P friends getting in this “Hot” labor market? Crappy ones! They are getting offers at local FBO for $17/hr with lousy benefits, or at non-union regionals for $21/hr graveyard shift. (My local school district starts $24/hr for school bus drivers with benefits, and has admin assistant jobs needing only basic skills that start at $30/hr. so I find A&P pay laughable considering the work) The top end of A&Ps at major airlines is around $45-50/hr (plus benefits). So it can be a decent paying career outside of GA if you want to spent the ten years it takes get your training and to get to that seniority level at a major, but most people can think of easier ways to earn $90k /yr after a decade.

      Only the most avid aviation lovers would choose to be an A&P for this pay, but these young people don’t exist. There is not the same amount of younger people who grew up dreaming of aviation – they are at home in the modern “virtual” world and the physical world is dirty and boring. There was no one in my class that had been in a GA plane. The whole idea of wrenching these grimy 60-yr-old spam cans with orange plush interiors and Narco avionics was distasteful to people who grew up on an iPhone and watched CGI Marvel Universe movies. They can’t understand why a 30-yr-old used muffler costs $800, a GPS from 1996 costs $5000, or a gas cap for a C421 costs $96. Is a carbon pile voltage regulator for real or just borrowed from a museum?? There is not one manual that has been written since 1963 and the definitive references for many subjects are literally from WW II. Uh did you just say microfiche?
      The whole GA thing to younger people seems like the guys who go to antique car shows and talk about whitewall tires on their Model-A Fords or people spending the weekend waxing their 70-yr-old teak sail boat – a niche hobby of weirdos who are hiding from their wives or creepy single dudes. Hanging out with cat ladies sound more normal and appealing than GA.

      Mike Busch had a great EAA webinar that’s on youtube about GA’s problems holding onto A&Ps while keeping your FBO’s shop rate under $150/hr – it is almost impossible to do. If you can be a decent A&P there are a dozen industries that can use your demonstrated abilities of following specific procedures, regs, comprehending complex documentation, troubleshooting, repair, maint., documenting your work etc., so a lot of Part 147 grads get poached by mining, oil/gas, manufacturing plant maint., amusement parks etc.
      There is a huge lack of decent repair documentation in GA, so if you did not have someone to show you how to do a repair, it can be really hard to understand how to do it properly and not kill people. Instead of just one brand like back in 1970s, most shops are expected to know how to fix a dozen brands of planes, so an apprentice A&P might be shown how to do a repair the first week on the job and then 8 years later he sees that repair again and can do it him(her)self properly. But once these experienced people are dead and gone, even a million new A&Ps won’t be useful since so much of what you need to know is not written down anywhere and has to be taught by experience.

      I know we complain about $5000 annuals, but I am honestly amazed that anyone can keep a FBO going these days. If none of this rings true and you have a great A&P or two and pay $60/hr shop rate, count yourself lucky – you don’t know how good you have it until it’s gone! So don’t bring donuts and coffee for your beloved FBO A&P, get him some bran muffins with unrefined organic local sourced honey, an acai smoothie, take him for a walk, maybe get him a massage. Make sure he’s taking his BP and cholesterol meds. Keep him going, ’cause once that guy’s dead, trust me, the next guy don’t know squat or (more likely) doesn’t exist and never will.

  4. George H. and Ronnie S. – that is downright scary. As my homebuilt nears completion, it seems “Timing is everything” is the operative truism, at least for me. Flying commercial has less and less to like about it, and that trend doesn’t seem to be letting up.

  5. The regional model as practiced in the US is slowly dying a slow death. The alleged pilot “shortage”, which is really a money shortage is driving those with any smarts to the mainline airlines where they get real wages. Others are just getting fed up and either leaving the industry or not getting into aviation to start with. All you have to do is read some of the postings on a lot of the pilot and aviation forums.

    • How do you define real wages? I’m a Regional Captain and have only been with my company 5 years. I work less than 4 days per week, never pick up extra work, get 3 weeks vacation and will make 150K this year. I have no desire to fly for a mainline (and I have the opportunity available to me now), I’m already 60 and came to this job after making much more in my previous career. If I were younger would I go to mainline, yes probably. But with unions and seniority priorities I will gladly retire from my lowly Regional job with another 750k in earning over the next 5 years.

      The people you see complaining on the forums likely never had a real job and have no understanding whatsoever of what constitutes a good job.

      • It’s good to see things have worked out for you. Judging by the former regional pilots my company gets these days and listening to their comments regarding their experiences, you are a minority. Also the comments on forums I have referred to are actually pilots who have already retired. Although they have been asked to either return or come back as sim instructors, all of them have said they would not even think about returning due to the current state of the airline business.

  6. Soon, the airlines and the planes will be fully automatic. There will be no need for pilots because the auto pilots will be doing all the work and making all the decisions. Robots will roam the aisles keeping unruly passengers in their seats and if need be, in restraints. The important person left standing will be the aircraft mechanic.
    Some folk were never destined to be college graduates. Some of them are even destined to guide the plough. There are times that someone has to learn the trade of plumbing or carpentry or electrician. The airlines, and the robots, are not going anywhere without some good aircraft mechanics.

  7. Not surprising for their to be a pilot and mechanic “shortage”, after the airlines laid them off a year ago. I suspect that one of the biggest reasons for the multitude of flight cancellations is that the airline marketeers put a lot of flights into the booking system, even though they didn’t have enough crew to staff them.

    • I agree 100% with everything Carl R. said. 25 years ago I took advantage of my night shift job to work with the flight school mechanic where I learned to fly, to get experience so I could get my A+P. Even if enough A+P candidates were to be getting experience or going to a school, there are not even enough examiners out there to handle the volume needed to replace those who are retiring. After getting signed off by the local FSDO, I went to a school in Nashville to finish and prep for the exams. It amazed me how many candidates were there from the airlines that were not yet certificated working under supervision of another or under a repair station certificate.

    • And keep in mind most automotive dealers charge $120+ an hour labor rate to work on your fancy new car!