American Airlines cites pilot shortages in decision to suspend flights to 4 airports

A pilot shortage has prompted American Airlines to suspend flights to some airports in Iowa, New York and Ohio beginning in September, the company said.

Services will be suspended at Dubuque Regional Airport in Iowa, according to a company statement to NBC News Wednesday, Sept. 7; Long Island MacArthur Airport and Ithaca Tompkins International Airport, located in New York; and the Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport in Ohio.

American Airlines pilots picket about contract
American Airlines pilots picketed outside Miami International Airport March 23 as contract negotiations entered their third year, according to the Allied Pilots Association.Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A statement from American Airlines cited the “regional shortage of pilots in the airline industry” as the reason for the “difficult decision” to cut connections to the four airports.

“We are very grateful for the care and service our team members have provided to our customers in Dubuque, Islip, Ithaca and Toledo and have been working closely with them during this time. We will proactively reach out to customers wishing to travel after this date to offer alternative arrangements,” the airline’s statement said.

American Airlines currently flies twice daily from the four affected airports, the company said.

In a statement by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority on behalf of Toledo Airport, the agency said:

“We are incredibly disappointed with American Airlines’ decision to discontinue service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) from Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport (TOL) effective September 7, 2022. Please note that this decision was made solely by the airline, mainly due to a lack of regional pilots. Unfortunately, we understand that this is a current ongoing trend in the airline industry. The Port Authority continues to meet several times a year with representatives from various airlines to improve our flight service outside of TOL.”

A MacArthur Airport spokesman said in a statement that officials hope to one day resume a partnership with American Airlines and “Hopefully this service adjustment will not be permanent.”

representative with the other two The affected airports were not immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.

More than 1,300 Southwest Airlines pilots stood on a picket line in Dallas on Tuesday, voicing concerns about unfair working conditions and inadequate pay, according to the pilots’ union.

“Southwest’s pilots have been in contract negotiations with the company for more than two years without a meaningful move toward a new contract,” the union said in a statement to NBC News, adding that “fatigue rates of pilots have reached an all-time high.”

Pilots from across the commercial airline industry have drawn attention to chronic staffing shortages that have forced airlines to either delay or cancel flights.

Bryan Logan and Rob Wile contributed.