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Pilot and airline staffing shortages pose problems for summer travel

More than 1,200 U.S. flights were canceled on Sunday and Monday, CBS News reports.

TAMPA, Fla. — Flight cancellations have caused passengers to get stuck in airports, with their luggage piling up across the country, as summer travel season gets underway.

Airline analysts predict the delays and cancellations will continue and may get worse before they get better, according to CBS News.

"We may not have seen the worst of this," Kit Darby, founder of Kit Darby Aviation Consulting, told the news network.

As July 4 weekend nears, the current issues of pilot, flight crew and aircraft shortages will likely still be in effect for those traveling to celebrate the holiday.

On top of shortages, weather can also throw a wrench in air travel.

"Right now, when you have normal things like airplane maintenance or weather, delays are much more severely felt. There are no reserved extra pilots, planes, flight attendants — and the chain is only good as the weakest link," Darby told CBS.

Airlines cut staff at the beginning of the pandemic as demand plummeted. But, as summer travel interest climbed again, carriers have struggled to keep up.

"You can hire as many customer service agents. You want to say, 'I'm sorry' but if you don't fix the root problems, the apologies will continue," CBS News senior travel adviser Peter Greenberg told the network. "You gotta be able to find pilots. There's a shortage. You have to be able to find people who work under the wing — ground handlers, baggage loaders." 

Experts warn CBS that there are no quick solutions to these large problems.

"Finding and training pilots is a four-year ordeal," Darby said. "This is a long-term problem without any likely short-term solutions." 

Tampa International Airport dealt with nine flight delays and three cancellations on Wednesday, according to its flight status page. 


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