A shortage of qualified airline pilots across the U.S. is bring portrayed by a public interest group as, “Air service in crisis.”
The La Crosse Aviation Board is supporting a national campaign called “Rally for Air Service,” to find ways of increasing the supply of pilots for commercial airlines.
La Crosse Regional Airport director Ian Turner said Tuesday that having more pilots would help this market meet the existing travel demand.
“We have demand that’s off the charts,” Turner said. “You can see that with our load factor, which is number of filled seats over the number of available seats. We’ve been north of 90 per cent for many months at this point. That shows an incredibly strong demand, but we can’t meet all of that demand without more planes.”
Turner added that early retirements, the cost of pilot training, and the amount of training time involved all contribute to a pilot shortage.
According to the campaign, major airlines had 110,000 pilots at the start of the pandemic.
Within a year, that number had fallen to around 92,000 pilots partly because of retirements. The industry is almost back to that 2020 figure now.