American Airlines says it will reduce flights in July partly because of a shortage of pilots due to more of them calling in sick according to today’s USA Today. The 1% reduction in July’s schedule follows a 1.5% cutback in June, which was also blamed partly on higher usage of sick leave by pilots.
It is interesting to note that the airlines have to take fairly drastic action over even minor disruptions in services supplied to the airlines by its pilots. Beginning in a few months, pilots will again be facing mandatory retirements at age 65 which will result in a much larger reduction in available pilots for all of this country’s airlines. I can imagine that there will be a lot more than a 1.5% cutback in flying as the pilot shortage deepens.
Bruce Hicks, spokesman for American’s Pilot Union, said that by reducing scheduled flights, American “will ensure we provide our customers with reliable service while minimizing any impact to their travel plans.”
The airline also saw an increase in pilot retirements last month — 57 pilots turned in retirement papers in May compared with 15 the month before, according to the union. That could be tied to the stock market’s slump in May.