Travel

Travel agency and flight school hope to help in case of shortage of pilots

American Airlines has suspended flights in four cities due to a shortage of pilots. Erie is taking action if airlines decide to add Erie to their list.

Here’s more on what the local flight school is doing to help and how travel agencies are responding.

The North Shore Flight School is looking to alleviate the pilot shortage should Erie be affected, while travel agencies are on standby to keep their customers happy.

Itika and Islip in New York, Toledo, Ohio, and Dabuk, Iowa are the latest cities affected by the pilot shortage.

American Airlines has suspended flights at its airports.

The president of the local flight school told us what he thinks is contributing to the shortage.

“With fuel prices, we all understand that you can just go to the gas station in your car. Well, it works the same as with an airline. They burn much more fuel. It is clear that costs are rising. You have the amount of money the airlines spend at each airport to be there. So all these fees need to be accounted for,” said Greg Hayes, president of the North Shore Flight School.

American Airlines senior global communications officer Brian Metam said there are currently no additional station closures and the airline continues to offer American Eagle service between Erie and the Charlotte Hub twice a day.

Although the airline still serves Erie International Airport, travel agencies are ready to take on their customers if service stops.

“If they had already booked a flight and it was cancelled, we would have taken care of them. We will make sure that either American Airlines refunds their ticket or we change them for a flight out of Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Buffalo,” said Ann Denny, owner of Miller Travel Services.

Hayes said he is doing everything he can to help solve the problem by training future pilots.

“Right now, at every airport, all stakeholders need to take part in the training of new pilots,” Hayes said.

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Denny says Miller Travel Services will refund customers’ tickets and rebook them with United Airlines if they insist on flying out of Erie.

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