LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Tens of thousands of flights were canceled this month and the majority had to do with airline struggles.
With airline passenger traffic at about 89% of pre-pandemic levels, Scott Keyes a chief flight expert says airlines were caught flat-footed.
“Travel demand rebounded much quicker than analysts and even airlines even expected,” Keyes tells 8 News Now.
He also says one of the most difficult things about running an airline is trying to project forward as much as nine to 12 months in advance on how many people are going to want to travel.
It’s difficult in the most normal of times and especially challenging during the pandemic when travel is in flux.
As a result, airlines are trying to play catch-up, a shortage of 12,000 pilots is expected next year due to COVID-related early retirement and mandatory retirements.
But hiring new pilots is a years-long process Keyes added.
“Now they’re realizing we don’t have enough pilots to fly the number of planes scheduled. They’re having to trim their schedules accordingly,” he said.
Spirit Airlines recently announced it will cut back on summer flights.
Jet Blue Airlines announced it will trim 10%, meanwhile, Alaska Airlines will cut 2%.
Keyes says the summer season is the time airlines make money.
For them to have to cut their schedule during summer, underscores how severe the pilot shortage is.
The flights most likely to be impacted by cancelations are flights to smaller markets.
Even with these scheduled cuts, Keyes says the vast majority of flights will take off, but it’s still good to stay nimble.