Airline Industry to Face Pilot Shortage as U.S. Emerges from Pandemic

The big airlines are thinking about ways to address one of the biggest problems they'll face after the pandemic: a pilot shortage.

The question is not if there will be a pilot shortage, but when. A new study by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman says by 2025 there could be a shortage of 34,000 to 50,000 pilots. The airline industry is dealing with issues like early retirements, fewer pilots leaving the military, and the high cost of training.

“[Before the pandemic, the airlines] were starting their own schools, producing their own pilots. That was put on hold, so they’re going to have to do that again. Maybe not in the next month, but in the next year, you’re going to start seeing that,” Aviation consultant and retired airline captain Denny Kelly said.

Kelly added there is not a shortage currently. However, when demand rises, if the airlines don't have enough pilots, they simply won't be able to offer as many flights. Which, in turn, could slow the industry’s recovery.

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