For passengers who have already booked tickets for a summer trip, experts therefore recommend to be careful about the possibility of changing the reservation, and for those who have yet to buy tickets, to pay attention to the price increase.
Last week, the number of passengers on domestic flights to the United States reached two million a day, approaching the level from the pre-pandemic year 2019, according to the data of the passenger checkpoints of the US Transportation Safety Authority (TSA).
During the pandemic, the airlines fired and quickly retired flight crew and other employees, encouraging them to take unpaid leave. Some found new jobs in truck driving, warehouses or turned to social assistance.
U.S. airlines have received $ 48 billion in state support to weather the pandemic, but despite efforts by both sides, the business is still not doing well.
Airlines had a problem with a shortage of pilots and aircraft mechanics even before the pandemic, because a large part was engaged during the boom of the 1980s, and reached the age limit for mandatory retirement.
During the pandemic, the companies reduced the training and the number of flight hours required to maintain the pilot’s license, said Bob Man, an analyst from “RV Man and Co.”, an aviation consulting firm.
Therefore, while the number of domestic trips to the USA is growing again, there is a lack of qualified staff, which is why companies “rob” pilots and aircraft mechanics not only from competitors, but also from their affiliated regional airlines, which only increases the total deficit, Mann said.
American Airlines canceled more than 400 flights last weekend, according to flight data from the specialized site FlightAware, and predicted that it would have to cancel 50 flights a day by mid-July, a total of over 1,200, although that is only one percent. of its overall schedule.
The airline cited a lack of staff, maintenance problems and bad weather as the reason for the flight cancellation, and said it was trying to reduce difficulties for passengers.
Experts warn that passengers should be prepared for the rise in airline ticket prices.
“State aid ‘on steroids’ given to companies will lead to inflation,” said Adam Pilarski, an advisor at the aviation consulting firm Avitas, adding that “this will be more pronounced in the aviation industry.”
Airline tickets went up by seven percent in May and 10 percent in April, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the consumer price index.
Airline ticket prices are expected to continue to rise, peaking in July and August, at the peak of the summer travel season, Mann said. Usually, the prices then fall during the fall, and then rise again during the winter holidays.
That is why those who plan a trip, book tickets early. According to Adobe Analytics, reservations for November and December are already 30 percent higher than in 2019.
While fired pilots and other crew members have to undergo training before returning to service, airlines are late with that and try a whole range of tactics to lure ready crews for the required flights. “Delta” announced that it plans to employ more than 1,000 pilots by the summer of 2022, in order to cope with the increase in the number of trips.
But there are also those who shift the blame to others. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby blamed the change in the number of pilots in the United States for changing the priority in the Armed Forces: “The army produces much fewer pilots today than during the Cold War,” Kirby told HBO last weekend.