American Airlines to stop flying to four small cities, citing pilot shortage

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American Airlines Embraer ERJ-145 regional jet aircraft as seen on final approach landing at New York JFK international airport in NY, on February 13, 2020.
Nicolas Economou | Nurphoto | Getty Images

American Airlines plans to drop service to four U.S. cities in September, including Dubuque, Iowa, which will lose scheduled commercial air service altogether.

The Fort Worth-based carrier blamed the service cuts on a shortage of regional pilots. American, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have each scaled back service between some smaller cities and their hubs, citing a lack of aviators.

The four cities — Toledo, Ohio; Islip, N.Y.; Ithaca, N.Y., and Dubuque — will each lose service from American on Sept. 7, after Labor Day.

“We’ll proactively reach out to customers scheduled to travel after this date to offer alternate arrangements,” American said in a statement.

The airports were served by American Airlines’ regional airline subsidiaries. Last week, those carriers jacked up pilot wages in an effort to stem the shortfall, which comes after several airlines shed aviators during the pandemic only to be caught flat-footed when travel demand snapped back.

Holly Kemler, spokeswoman for Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport, said the airport staff “are incredibly disappointed” by American’s decision.

“Please note, this decision was made solely by the airline, primarily due to a shortage of regional pilots,” she said. “Unfortunately, we understand this is a current continued trend in the aviation industry.”

Kemler said the airport is still served by sun-seeker-focused airline Allegiant.

American Airlines said the cities will still be served by flights at other airports that are between 45 miles and 120 miles away.

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