As the busy holiday season continues, travelers in the U.S. are getting back to the skies after a major dip in air travel during the height of the COVID pandemic. More than two million people traveled through airports the weekend before Thanksgiving, and more than one million are still traveling now—an increase from the 500,000 to 800,000 travelers seen during this time last year, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). But heightened demand is happening alongside flight cancellations and cuts. United Airlines, Frontier, and American Airlines have all announced in recent months that they would be dropping flights next year. And now, Delta Air Lines is making some cancellations as well. Read on to find out what flights are being cut by this carrier for the next two months.
Delta is cutting flights to Atlanta for the next two months.
Delta Air Lines currently operates three flights each day from the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport in Glynn County, Georgia to Atlanta, according to The Brunswick News. The flights between these locations, despite being only a little more than 300 miles apart, are often and routinely overbooked. But despite such high demand, the local news outlet just reported that the Atlanta-based airline would be cutting down the flights to just two a day in both January and February.
Officials say that the cuts are the result of a pilot shortage.
Usually airlines cut their flights due to a lack of demand, like United Airlines announced it would be doing in November and December of this year. But during a development meeting on Dec. 7, Rob Burr, the executive director of the Glynn County Airport Authority, said that Delta is cutting its flights from Brunswick Golden Isles Airport to Atlanta because of a shortage of pilots, per The Brunswick News.
"Delta is struggling to staff," Burr said at the meeting. "We have strong demand, but the supply is not there. We need four flights a day."
Delta has previously warned of labor shortages.
It doesn't come as a surprise that Delta has begun cutting flights due to a lack of pilots. In late October, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian warned of an impending pilot shortage. "There is a looming shortage coming. It's not here yet. But it's on its way," Bastian said during a U.S. Travel Associations conference on Oct. 26, as reported by TravelPulse.
According to the travel news outlet, the lack of pilots has been brought on by both the pandemic's effect on travel and the number of pilots stepping down after reaching the mandatory retirement age. Pilots in the U.S. are allowed to fly until they are 65 in accordance with the Fair Treatment for Experience Pilots Act, which went into effect in 2007 and raised the age limit from 60, per the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
"There was conversation about aging pilots and the potential shortage [even] pre-pandemic," U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow noted during the conference.
RELATED: For more travel news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
This airline is also cutting other Atlanta flights next year.
This is not the only flight cut from Delta Air Lines that will affect the Atlanta hub. The airline has also recently shelved plans to operate flights from Atlanta to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the summer of 2022, Simple Flying reported on Dec. 6. According to the travel news outlet, Delta had planned to have five weekly outbound flights from Atlanta to Rio next summer, but all 154 flights have since been removed from its schedule.
Instead, the airline will fly this route in February and March of next year, but end it on March 23, 2022. And more cuts may be coming if a pilot shortage continues. In April 2021, Delta Air Lines canceled a total of 100 flights during a pilot shortage at the time, as employees took time off to get COVID vaccinations, Airways Magazine reported.