Pilot shortage could mean higher ticket prices, fewer flights | News

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Pilot shortage could mean higher ticket prices, fewer flights
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A major pilot shortage could mean higher prices and fewer flights in the future. It's an industry that has had a turbulent decade. Now, airline customers could be flying into new challenges.

"There's going to be a huge pilot shortage like we have never seen," said Wayne Ziskal, a retired American Airlines captain and current Jacksonville University assistant professor of aeronautics. He said it's a perfect storm that could lead to some major airlines losing as much as 70 percent of their pilots in the next 10 years. 

"The people who were able to go to 65 are going to be retiring as of starting this month. There will be many foreign airlines and countries that will require United States-trained pilots," Ziskal explained.

Plus, there are new rules for increased pilot resting periods, and minimum training hour requirements will be increasing by six times by next summer. And a big pilot recruitment source is getting smaller.  Years ago, airlines would get a huge number of pilots from the military.

"All over the news you hear about drone strikes. Drones are unmanned airplanes doing the job that manned airplanes used to do," Ziskal said.

All of this could mean higher prices and fewer flights at smaller airports.

"Salaries are going to have to go up, and I believe ticket prices may follow. Some of the smaller airports may suffer because there just won't be the regional pilots and airplanes to service those cities," Ziskal said.

For now, no one really knows the total number of pilots that could disappear from the American skies, but many are speculating you will notice the change. The Government Accountability Office believes this is a serious issue. They just put out a memo yesterday noting the problem and explaining they are going to study it to determine the impact in the coming months. 

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