Issue No. 833
Regionals' Labor Issues Return
U.S. Regionals Are Struggling to Hire as Major Airlines Suck up Available Labor
Pushing Back: Inside the Issue
The U.S. regional sector has long faced hiring issues. Cape Air began actively working to address the impending pilot shortage in 2009, even before the so-called "1,500 hour rule" — largely panned in the sector — came into force in 2013. The pandemic gave regionals a momentary breather in this perennial struggle but now, with the U.S. recovery well underway, the industry is again struggling to find pilots — but also maintenance technicians and people for pretty much any entry-level position. And in the pecking order of airlines, regionals are at an even greater disadvantage when even giant Southwest Airlines can't find enough staff.
Elsewhere, Italy's new carrier and Alitalia successor Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA) took a step towards an all-Airbus fleet with commitments for 59 new jets, including A220s, A320neos and A330neos. The news came the same week that Air France took delivery of its first A220, which by mid-decade will constitute the majority of the carrier's European fleet. And the Airbus A380 will fly again for another day at Qatar Airways that returns superjumbos to the sky in November to add extra lift. Though its CEO Akbar al Baker may regret his comments a year ago calling the plane its "biggest mistake" ever.
All of these moves are happening as IATA data confirms what many knew: the travel recovery stumbled in August. The Delta variant set back most domestic markets — save for Russia — with few expecting another jump in passenger numbers until the year-end holidays. That isn't stopping budget carriers from adding routes with Vueling jumping on a rare opportunity to expand in Paris, and French Bee returning to San Francisco ahead of what its president sees as "huge" demand.
The Airline Weekly Lounge Podcast
This week in the Lounge, Edward Russell reports back on the annual Regional Airline Association Leaders Conference, where executives said their long-standing labor issues expanded during the crisis. Then, Madhu Unnikrishnan joins him to discuss Qatar Airways’ results, and the American Airlines and Southwest Airlines pilot union objections to vaccine mandates. For a full archive of the podcast, go here. A new episode drops every week.