The airline pilot shortage debacle

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As air travel demand remains to recover from the last year, most recent forecasts now project that demand for pilots will outstrip supply in most regions globally between 2022 and 2024 — and continue to deteriorate over the next decade.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that over the next ten years we will be 18,000 pilots short,” says Natalie Baker Director of Marketing and Communications at Duluth International Airport.

With the continuous lifting of COVID-19-related permissions on air travel, demand has skyrocketed. As a result, the North American region already has an acute pilot shortage, equivalent to 11% of pilot supply, or about 8,000 pilots, and this gap will only widen throughout the decade. In addition, as the recovery continues to expand, the supply of pilots is being challenged by multiple factors, including a wave of early retirements at the height of the pandemic.

“When the pandemic hit and people stopped flying, it kind of accelerated the retirement. So the standard retirement age of an airline pilot is 65. And in a cost saving effort, most airlines did offer incentive programs for early retirement and buyouts. So it’s just going to take time for the industry to recover its labor force,” continues Baker.

However what can we do now in Duluth to combat these fast to fill up flights and lack of resources?

“I would say always check flying out of Duluth first. The prices will surprise you. It isn’t always more expensive. I would always check flying out of here first,” finishes Baker.