- An ongoing pilot shortage has prompted US airlines to replace planes with buses on some routes in an attempt to tackle the issue.
- Bloomberg reported that United and American Airlines were among those using the new scheme.
- Labor shortages continue to pose problems for various industries, including aviation, where salary hikes and higher bonuses are being used to attract and retain talent.
- Bloomberg reported that United and American signed contracts with the Colorado bus-as-flight company Landline to transport passengers and their luggage by bus on short, domestic routes.
- One such route offered by United is expected to take passengers from Denver to smaller cities, including Breckenridge and Fort Collins.
- American’s bus service is scheduled to begin on June 3. Passengers are expected to be ferried between New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
- United and American did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comments, which were made outside normal working hours.
- The pilot shortage has affected other airlines, too. Delta Air Lines announced that it was reducing its education requirements for prospective pilots by abandoning the requirement for a four-year college degree.
- American Airlines on Thursday forecast a second-quarter pretax profit as strong bookings help it cover soaring fuel costs, the latest airline to report robust travel demand is outpacing expenses.
- American, the country’s largest airline, said March was the first month since the Covid pandemic began that its revenue surpassed 2019 levels and said bookings have continued to rise.
- The carrier forecast second-quarter sales as much as 8% higher than the same period three years ago even though it plans to fly between 6% and 8% less than its schedule for the same three months of 2019. That’s still a more fully recovered schedule than competitors Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, which have been more conservative about restoring capacity throughout the pandemic.
- American forecast business travel revenue will be 90% recovered to 2019 levels in the second quarter, led by small and midsize companies.
- “I’m a new CEO. People want to come and see me. It’s the same thing in the rest of the economy,” new CEO Robert Isom told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday. “People have been cooped up too long, relationships have faded, and they need to be reestablished.”
- After three years with very little movement at the bargaining table, the Alaska Airlines pilots are taking the next steps to try to move negotiations forward. The pilot union’s leaders at Alaska Airlines unanimously voted to conduct a strike-authorization ballot among their pilots. This means union leaders are officially requesting the Alaska Airlines pilot group, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association Int’l (ALPA), give them the authority to go on strike when legally permitted to do so. This would only happen if negotiations break down and the federal government authorizes a walkout after the parties exhaust the required procedures of the Railway Labor Act.
- The Alaska Airlines ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC), voted 11 to 0 today to conduct a strike-authorization ballot that will open on May 9 and close on May 25. Once passed by the pilots, the vote would authorize the pilot leadership to declare a strike when the group is given permission to do so by the National Mediation Board (NMB).
- “Alaska pilots are not looking to strike. We are looking for improvements to our contract in line with the market but that will also allow our company to grow and remain successful and competitive,” said Capt. Will McQuillen, chairman of the Alaska Airlines ALPA MEC. “However, we are willing to take any lawful steps necessary, including a legal strike, to achieve the contract every Alaska pilot has earned.”
- Sun Country Airlines customers received this message:
- “Due to the current pilot shortage impacting all U.S. airlines, Sun Country has regrettably elected to suspend service to Honolulu, HI (HNL) for the 2022 travel season. Passengers who were booked on impacted flights will automatically be refunded to their original form of payment for their reservation.”
- Passengers don’t need to take any action to get their refund. However, the airlines said it is unable to provide any additional reimbursement beyond a refund for rental cars, hotels, tickets purchased on other carriers and other expenses.
- Hawaiian Airlines canceled dozens of flights ahead of the Easter holiday weekend, and rescheduling has not been easy. The cancelations are due to pilot training and simulator certification issues.
- Southwest Airlines has also been dealing with flight cancellations and delays due to technology issues, but the main concern for union leaders is something else. Last week, the union said their pilots are suffering through an epidemic of fatigue due to poor scheduling practices which have escalated out of control.