DALLAS — American Airlines has announced that it is dropping service to four U.S. airports, including one in Ohio, due to the continuing pilot shortage facing the industry.
Starting September 7, American will no longer fly to Dubuque, Iowa,; Islip N.Y.; Ithaca, N.Y.; and Toledo.
American made the decision "in response to the regional pilot shortage affecting the airline industry," the company said in a statement released to 3News on Wednesday evening.
"We’re extremely grateful for the care and service our team members provided to our customers in Dubuque, Islip, Ithaca and Toledo, and are working closely with them during this time," American added. "We’ll proactively reach out to customers scheduled to travel after this date to offer alternate arrangements."
American Airlines currently flies from Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport to Chicago's O'Hare Airport twice daily via a regional jet operated by Envoy Air.
But the dropped routes highlight something American is facing when it comes to regional carriers it operates. The airline said it currently has about 100 aircraft on the ground that it can't fly due to a lack of regional pilots.
"Like many network carriers, we have reduced our regional flying in recent months in response to the regional pilot shortage," American said.
American says its customers in Toledo can access the airline's global network through Detroit, which is approximately 67 miles away.
The decision by American leaves Allegiant Air as the lone airliner offering service to and from Toledo Express. Allegiant flies to three Florida destinations - Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers - and Mesa, Ariz.
"We are incredibly disappointed to learn of American Airlines' decision to cancel service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) out of Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport (TOL) beginning Sept. 7, 2022. Please note, this decision was made solely by the airline, primarily due to a shortage of regional pilots. Unfortunately, we understand this is a current continued trend in the aviation industry," Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority spokeswoman Holly Kemler said in a statement to 3News' sister station WTOL.
"The Port Authority continues to meet with various airline representatives multiple times a year in an effort to increase air service out of TOL. Toledo Express is still served by Allegiant, which offers nonstop service to Phoenix-Mesa, Arizona and Orlando Sanford, Ft. Myers/Punta Gorda and St. Pete-Clearwater, Florida," Kemler added.
Meanwhile, American Airlines says it anticipates the pilot shortage "could loom for some time." The company recently reached agreements with three of its regional carriers "to ensure we're able to operate a more reliable schedule in the future."
The pilot shortage has led to a tumultuous start to the summer travel season.
Hundreds of flights have been canceled and thousands more delayed over the last week. Airlines have blamed the travel issues on bad weather, COVID-19 absences and staff shortages.
Pilots have complained about airlines overbooking flights.
“They sold tickets to the traveling public in the spring and over the winter for summer vacation, that they can’t live up to," said American Airlines Capt. Dennis Tajer, who's with the Allied Pilots Association. "It’s driving us pilots crazy."