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Airlines face staffing challenge

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 7:58 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -

The airline industry is getting back on track, but what does the future look like for those who fly for a living? Kathy McCarty has more on how the pandemic has changed the face of commercial aviation.

Flight schedules are slowly returning to normal, but are staff ready to return? Staying adequately trained is one problem facing pilots. Russ Leighton, Vice President of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations, says another is having enough crew to fly.

“A lot of folks got done anywheres from, you know, five to eight years earlier that they would have been retiring. So now once we spool back up again, those people can’t come back. And if we get to anywheres near pre-pandemic levels, we’re back to the same pilot shortages we were already facing, exacerbated by the fact that so many folks have retired as a result of the pandemic. And yes, some have probably moved on to other jobs also,” says Russ Leighton, Vice President of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations.

Jennie Sandusky, a Flight Attendant with Delta, says she worries about returning to work, but not because of the virus.

“I think my big concern at work is dealing with the passengers, because I’ve heard that they’ve been tedious at best, especially the ones that don’t want to play by the F.A.A.-mandated rules. Planes get turned back all the time for people refusing to put their masks on or wear them properly,” says Jennie Sandusky, Flight Attendant/International Purser for Delta Airlines.

Sandusky, a single mom, says she hopes to return to work April 30th.

“I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to hold international when I go back actually, ‘cause even though we’ve lost so many flight attendants, it’s changed the seniority demographics. And I bid - when I bid my April schedule, I bid for international; I didn’t hold a single one. But May we’re getting a lot of things back, so we’ll see,” says Sandusky.

With summer and the holidays ahead, Sandusky says ...

“You need to book. Whatever you want to fly, you need to book now because we got rid of aircraft and pilots and flight attendants and we’re a much leaner airline than we were before Covid,” says Sandusky.

Kathy McCarty, NewsSource 8

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