CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte is American Airlines' largest regional hub with hundreds of flights each day to small, regional airports. But all of those flight options could be in jeopardy if the regional carriers can’t find more pilots.
“The pipeline for pilots started to dry up after 9/11,” Piedmont Airlines President Lyle Hogg explained.
Hogg told NBC Charlotte the regional pilot shortage is more of an issue than some may think.
“If things don't change, what could happen down the road?” asked reporter Mark Boyle.
“Those carriers that are really tight on pilots would not be able to serve some of the smaller communities," replied Hogg.
That’s another big issue. Hogg explains regional carriers like Piedmont may reduce frequency to smaller cities, which would create fewer flying options for you.
Here's the issue: Learning to be a pilot can cost well over $100,000. After airlines went out of business years ago, and furloughs were being offered, combine that with all of the mergersm and the pipeline of trained pilots dried up.
“This is a phenomenon that's happening across the nation. Even the military is short pilots,” Hogg said.
Carriers like Piedmont are trying to intice young pilots with large bonuses to help pay of debt, but it's still a slow process. It’s unclear how a possible pilot shortage will impact summer travel.