CLARENDON — A pilot shortage has led to Cape Air flights out of Rutland airport being canceled for the next few days, according to sources.
A Cape Air employee on the company’s booking line said Thursday that there were no flights available from Rutland to Boston until Monday, and flights scheduled between Thursday and then had all been canceled because of a lack of pilots.
Christopher Beitzel, state airport manager for the Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport, said Thursday that he’d been told by Cape Air about the cancellations and confirmed that a pilot shortage was the reason the company cited.
Calls and emails to a representative speaking on behalf of Cape Air weren’t returned as of press time on Thursday.
The problem appears widespread.
Earlier this week, USA Today reported that U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, sent letters last week to the CEOs of American, Southwest, Delta, JetBlue, Republic and Allegiant. She wrote that she is concerned by reports that have highlighted the role of worker shortages in a surge of delayed and canceled flights, the newspaper reported.
In identical letters to the CEOs, Cantwell said each airline did a poor job of managing its workforce and, at worst, “failed to meet the intent of taxpayer funding and prepare for the surge in travel that we are now witnessing,” USA Today reported.
According to published reports, since March 2020, when the pandemic began to crush air travel, Congress has approved $54 billion to keep airline workers employed. As a condition of the aid, airlines have been prohibited from furloughing workers, but they persuaded tens of thousands of employees to take voluntary buyouts, early retirement or long-term leave to cut costs, USA Today reported.
Now the airlines are trying to bolster their staffs, the newspaper reported.
This week, American cited rising passenger numbers in saying it will recall 3,300 flight attendants from long-term leave and hire 800 more before the end of the year. Delta said it will hire between up to 5,000 workers this year to reduce long hold times for customers who call the airline and to deal with worker shortages at contractors such as food caterers and airplane cleaners, USA Today reported.