Demand for air travel returns with Covid-19 pandemic reprieve, but why does the US seem unready? Boom Bust finds out

Apr 11, 2021 | BUSINESS

The Covid-19 pandemic has flattened the air travel industry, as global restrictions and lockdowns not only kept planes grounded and saw pilots laid off, but left the entire tourism sector stranded for nearly a year.

As the pandemic begins to wind down, US travelers have started returning to the sky. However, US air carriers do not seem ready to get back on track, facing the need to switch from enforcing layoffs to hiring by the thousands, and this has nothing to do with coronavirus.

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Over the next decade, US airlines will lose nearly half of their 15,000 pilots, who will be forced out of their jobs due to the federally mandated retirement age that stands at 65.

RT’s Boom Bust talks to Dennis Tajer, communication committee chairman at the Allied Pilots Association, to explore the issue.

According to Tajer, even rapidly increasing travel won’t help air carriers to recover their multibillion-dollar losses, as there may not be enough pilots to satisfy the renewed demand.

“I fly for American [Airlines], I’m a 737 captain as well. American may not have enough pilots to fly its schedule coming up this summer, they are literally going to double the size of the airline in the next two months,” he said.

Tajer added that there currently aren’t enough pilots ready to fly due to early retirements, furloughs and a lack of regular training due to prolonged lockdowns.

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