Air travel was a mess over holiday weekend & issues are expected to continue

‘I don’t see a quick fix for this,’ aviation expert says

It’s shaping up to be a rough summer for air travel.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s shaping up to be a rough summer for air travel.

On Monday alone, U.S. airports saw almost 400 cancellations, according to FlightAware, and four were in Jacksonville. Airlines are placing blame on bad weather and a shortage of pilots.

From Friday through Sunday, more than 10,000 flights were delayed or canceled nationwide.

RELATED: Gas prices, inflation causing many to alter or abandon summer travel plans

Most of the people we spoke with at the Jacksonville International Airport said they’ve run into issues with flying over the past few months.

“My flight was scheduled to leave Fort Wayne at 5 in the morning Friday. It was cancelled,” Shawna Dufor told us.

Simona Marincan, who was traveling from Detroit, said she was recently on a flight from San Francisco that ran into a 24-hour delay.

News4JAX aviation analyst Ed Booth predicts the delays and cancellations will continue for quite some time.

“This is going to go on for years. In my opinion, I don’t see a quick fix for this,” Booth said. “The airlines could start solving the problem by hiring people and then paying for their training.”

Booth says pilot training for commercial airlines is expensive.

“They are typically young people who are excited about going into aviation as a career, are particularly enamored with the possibility of flying airplanes. Very few of them make it because they find out it’s very expensive, very demanding,” Booth said. “The cost of the airline transport rating required to fly for a major airline is close to a quarter million dollars.”

Booth also said there’s a lack of instructors to train these pilots.

“There aren’t enough training airplanes. There’s not enough airspace,” he explained. “Flight Instructors are drawn from the same pool of candidates as airline pilots, and there’s a shortage of flight instructors, and if you don’t have enough flight instructors, you obviously can’t train additional pilots. Again, the perfect storm.”

When it comes to recruiting pilots, Booth said, airlines visit key locations around the country

“They go to universities with aviation training programs, such as Jacksonville University, and hold job fairs and try to entice young people who are in still in the training process to sign on with their brand and usually start out with their commuter airline and work their way up to the main line,” Booth said.

Margie Jordan is a travel agent. She shared some advice to help travelers.

“Don’t catch the last flight of the day and keep your connections reasonable,” she said. “Don’t do what I did and take a short connection — and that almost guarantees you’ll have a delay.”

Even if a layover isn’t ideal, Jordan said, take it.

“You know you’ll get to your destination at the end of the day,” she said.

About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.