Airline Cancels All Flights, Blames Pilot Shortage

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A fledgling California airline says it is canceling flights until further notice because of a shortage of pilots. California Pacific Airlines began service to and from its base in Carlsbad, California, in November with four 50-seat ERJ145s and was plagued with delays and cancellations shortly after it launched. In one case, a plane was damaged when it was hit by a backhoe on a ramp in Pierre, South Dakota, but other cancellations were blamed on mechanical issues. In late December the airline announced it was canceling all flights until it could get more pilots hired and trained.

The airline’s reservation website shows no availability through the end of February. Airline officials told the NBC San Diego affiliate that the company hoped to resume service in February. Those who have booked flights in January will get refunds. The airline lists its destinations as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Reno and San Jose with one-way fares starting at about $100.

Comments (11)

Pilot shortage my . . . I wonder what they are paying their pilots. With fares at $100 how can an airline flying jets afford to pay flight crews and ground crews and still make a profit to stay in business? Cheap fares for a startup airline just don't work, especially now that pilot salaries are rising to the level they should have been all along. My guess along with low salaries the other issue is that their training dept is not up to training enough pilots to keep up with the airline's schedules. That is a management problem, not a pilot shortage!

Posted by: matthew wagner | December 29, 2018 6:13 PM    Report this comment

The "Pilot shortage" is more accurately termed a shortage of pilots willing to work for food-stamp wages (or less) after spending $100K to qualify for the job.

Posted by: Blaine Nay | December 30, 2018 7:52 AM    Report this comment

I have to agree with Blaine Nay, Their may be a small shortage of qualified pilot's but theirs a much bigger problem with small companies that expect their pilot's to work long hour's while being away from home for long periods of time while paying them next to noting.

Posted by: Wayne Arnold | December 30, 2018 2:45 PM    Report this comment

I have to agree with Blaine Nay, Their may be a small shortage of qualified pilot's but theirs a much bigger problem with small companies that expect their pilot's to work long hour's while being away from home for long periods of time while paying them next to noting.

Posted by: Wayne Arnold | December 30, 2018 2:47 PM    Report this comment

I did a whole essay on the pilot shortage issue for college last year. ALPA says there's no pilot shortage and the issue is caused more or less by low pay and minimal benefits. Honestly I think the industry has more of a CFI shortage right now than a pilot shortage. You can't trust everything you read.

Posted by: Brandon Zender | December 30, 2018 3:27 PM    Report this comment

I disagree. The "shortage of pilots willing to work for food stamp wages" is certainly the narrative of ALPA (largest pilot union), but I do not believe it to be reality. The regionals have upped their wages to a very respectable level for both starting pilots and those that have some longevity.

Part of the issue is the age 65 mandatory retirement increase merely kicked the can down the road for a few years, the airlines have been slow to respond to the oncoming tsunami of retirements and all the majors are hiring at the same time.

No doubt the cost of entry to the airlines is high, but this was greatly exacerbated by the overreach of Congress enacting the 1500 hour ATP rule following the Colgan air crash (which was not caused by inexperienced pilots on the flight deck). ALPA certainly has backed the ATP rule and fought hard to prevent any reasonable changes to it. In my opinion, their position that this is driven purely for "safety reasons" is disingenuous. It has more to do with helping prolong this shortage, which ultimately drives wages (and therefore dues money) upward.

My comments (opinions) are based on 34 years of Part 121 Major Airline experience and my son is a Captain at a large Part 121 regional .

Posted by: Keith Ellis | December 30, 2018 3:34 PM    Report this comment

The ATP requirement arguement against is meaningless since the Canadians complain just as much about "pilot shortages" and they do not have that requirement for SIC's. As far as any "shortage" in this country I still have not seen any pt 121 or 135 operator hire anyone off the street and pay for that candidate's training from private pilot through ATP. Even the European airline operators require a training agreement for their candidates. And training agreements are still prevalent in the 135 world. The regional operators in the US who have cancelled flights or stopped operating due to their own lack of pilots is a result of their own mismanagement thinking that pilots will still be willing to fly for nothing. The major US airlines have already said they are not having problems getting pilots. And even the congressional inspector general has published that there is not a shortage of ATP rated pilots out there. The pt 135 company I work for now still does not need to advertise for pilots and is the first company I have worked for (4th one in 18 years) where there is not the pilot turnover I have seen at previous outfits. My company has several former pt 121 pilots. There may not be as many pilots out there as there was 10-15 years ago but there is nowhere near a "shortage" in this country.

Posted by: matthew wagner | December 30, 2018 4:57 PM    Report this comment

Well, as the old saying goes: If you want to make a quick million in an aviation-related business, start with five million.

Posted by: Sean Bickerton | December 30, 2018 5:08 PM    Report this comment

I quit due to horrid pay and lack of sleep.
$20k per year to fly 50 pax in a CRJ?
No way.


I was literally falling asleep whilst flying

Posted by: Rodolfo Lasparri | December 30, 2018 7:38 PM    Report this comment

> The ATP requirement arguement against is meaningless since the Canadians complain just as much about "pilot shortages" and they do not have that requirement for SIC's.

I don't think it's valid to compare US and Canadian aviation in an off-hand manner.

The most salient point is that if you want to work for the major (Air Canada), pilot applicants are not allowed to work for other airlines, according to the CFIs I've talked to. So they continue to instruct (while living at home) and build hours, or join as a baggage handler, etc. for a shot at internal pilot slots at Air Canada only. They do not apply at "regionals."

Also, different countries have very different regulatory environments and populations than the USA.

Posted by: James Briggs | January 1, 2019 5:55 PM    Report this comment

"The most salient point is that if you want to work for the major (Air Canada), pilot applicants are not allowed to work for other airlines, according to the CFIs I've talked to. So they continue to instruct (while living at home) and build hours, or join as a baggage handler, etc. for a shot at internal pilot slots at Air Canada only. They do not apply at "regionals."

????? Canadian pilots join Air Canada from regionals, low costs, and other flying jobs just like in the USA....my former colleague from flying at an overseas airlines just joined them...

Posted by: Thomas Ibach | January 3, 2019 3:23 AM    Report this comment

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