Hard-pressed airlines shuttle passengers on buses

by Trinity Cardinal

Savannah Hulsey Pointer, FISM News 


U.S. airline companies have been forced to shuttle customers on buses between cities within close proximity to one another due to an ongoing pilot shortage, giving credence to the phrase “desperate times call for desperate measures.”

According to a report by Business Insider, United and American Airlines have signed contracts with the bus-as-flight company, Landline, with routes between cities such as Denver to Breckenridge, Colorado. 

“We’re making it easier for you to enjoy all the hiking, rafting, and skiing that Colorado has to offer. Now, you can book your Colorado adventure, fly into Denver and connect to Breckenridge or Fort Collins with luxury ground transportation provided by The Landline Company — all booked seamlessly through united.com or the United app,” United Airlines said on their company website. 

“Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that United and Landline are both putting health and safety at the forefront of your journey.”

Bloomberg reported that the labor shortages have caused an ongoing problem for several industries, including aviation, where companies have been forced to increase salaries and create better bonus structures to bring on or keep talent within their company. 

Airlines are coping with that by the unconventional passenger transport that will allow the bus line to transport passengers and their luggage on short domestic routes. American Airlines is scheduled to begin its busing service on June 3 which will ferry passengers between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

Other companies are coping with the problem in other ways, such as Delta Air Lines announcing that it was reducing its education requirements for prospective pilots by not requiring them to have a four-year college degree. Breeze Airways is now hiring pilots from Australia under the E-3 visa program for skilled workers. 

“Breeze Airways, the startup airline launched by JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman, has been steadily hiring pilots throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is expanding its efforts as it grows its fleet of aircraft,” said Insider.  

“About 280 pilot spots need to be filled for Breeze’s Embraer E19 0, Embraer E195, and Airbus A220 aircraft, and the airline is pulling out all the stops to attract talent.”

Breeze’s vice president of flight operations Christopher Owen said, “It’s an opportunity to give good, hardworking, well-qualified folks jobs who want to live in the US [and] want to be a pilot for a US airline.”

In addition to other measures, United said it has been forced to cut 29 cities over the summer, which will continue indefinitely, due to partner company SkyWest Airlines not having enough pilots to fly the routes. 

“As a result of an ongoing pilot staffing imbalance across the industry, SkyWest expects to discontinue service in several markets beginning this summer,” the carrier told Insider

Insider went on to say, “All the affected routes are operated on behalf of United Airlines as United Express. United told Insider in a statement that it is battling the pilot shortage by opening its own flight school, Aviate Academy, to train ‘as many as 5,000 pilots this decade.’”