Travel agency and flight school seek help during pilot shortage

American Airlines has suspended operations in four cities due to a shortage of pilots. Action is taken in Erie if airlines decide to add Erie to their list.

Here’s more information on what a local flight school is doing to help and how travel companies are responding.

The North Coast Flight School is looking to ease pilot shortages if it impacts Erie while travel agencies are on standby to accommodate their customers.

Ithica and Islip New York, Toledo Ohio and Dubuque Iowa are the latest cities to be hit by pilot shortages.

American Airlines has suspended operations at its airports.

The president of a local flight school told us what he thinks contributes to the shortage.

“With fuel prices, we all understand that you can just go to the pump with your car. Well, it works the same way with an airline. They consume much more fuel. Of course, the costs increase. You have the amount of money the airlines spend at each airport to get there. So all of those costs have to be factored in,” said Greg Hayes, president of the North Coast Flight School.

American Airlines senior global communications specialist Brian Metham said there are no additional station closures at this time and the airline continues to offer American Eagle service between Erie and the hub of Charlotte twice a day.

While the airline still serves Erie International Airport, travel agencies are ready to accommodate their customers if service is interrupted.

“If they had already booked a flight and it was canceled, we would take care of them. We would either make sure that American Airlines reimbursed their ticket or we would change them to depart from Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Buffalo,” said Ann Denny, owner of Miller Travel Services.

Hayes said he was doing everything he could to help combat the problem by training future pilots.

“Right now, every airport, everyone that’s involved needs to be involved in trying to train new pilots,” Hayes said.

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Denny says Miller Travel Services would refund the tickets to customers and rebook them on United Airlines if they insist on leaving Erie.

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