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Pilot shortage may lead to higher plane ticket prices

By Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas -- Flyers can expect to see higher plane ticket prices as early as this spring as a result of a shortage of regional airline pilots.

According to AirfareWatchDog.com, the shortage has already forced Republic Airways to scratch flights from their schedule.

Republic Airways announced that it will remove 27 of its 243 planes from service due to the lack of qualified pilots.

United will also have to reduce some of its small plane flights from its regional partners.

The removal of these flights will also lead to major scheduling changes.

As a result, flyers can expect to see longer connection and less non-stop flights.

Joe Maxsom, a corporate jet pilot from El Paso said the reason for the shortage boils down to low pay, strenuous training, and majority of the pilots nearing retirement.

"The average salary for a new right seater co-pilot is $21,000," Maxsom said.

Maxsom recalls the starting pay for a pilot was also really low when he started flying in the military in 1968.

"I've always enjoyed traveling," Maxsom said. "I can remember when my salary went over $10,000 a year and I thought that's more money than I've ever seen."

Maxsom said not only are pilots not willing, but some pilots are not qualified to fly for regional airlines as the FAA recently changed their training requirements for starting pilots.

The new rule requires first officers to hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate to complete 1,500 hours as a pilot.

Before, pilots only needed 250 hours of training to fly a commuter plane.

"They're probably going to spend somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 before they are at the point where the airlines will even talk to them," Maxsom said.

Maxsom fears the shortage will not let up anytime soon.

"I think the people who are going to suffer are those who cannot and will not pay reasonable salaries to attract people into the business," Maxsom said. "It's just not going to happen."

 

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