National pilot shortage could impact local flights and eventually your wallet

A national shortage of pilots could soon impact the local flights you depend on and the packages you’re shipping via plane.

According to retired American Airlines pilot, Capt. Wayne Ziskal, consumers will eventually feel the effects of the shortage in their wallets.

“The cost of everything will go up (and) it’ll be reflected either in the ticket for the passenger or the shipping for the consumer,” said Ziskal.

Ziskal said the shortage is being fueled by retirements and pilots needing to log 1,500 flight hours to even be considered for a job.

“We are looking at 14,000 pilots by the year 2026 that we are not going to be able to come up with,” said Ziskal.

Ziskal is a retired American Airlines pilot with 35 years’ experience.

He said regional airlines are feeling the most impact.

“It’s causing them to shrink service. There are many cities right now that used to have commuter service and regional service and no longer have that,” said Ziskal.

Ziskal said regional flights could potentially be canceled or stopped at airports like Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine and JIA. Both of which use regional service.

“It’s not that there’s a dearth of pilots, there’s a dearth of qualified pilots,” said Ziskal.

According to Ziskal, airlines are having to increase salaries to attract employees.

“The $18,000 a year is now turning into a $60,000 a year initial starting job with signing bonuses for these regional pilots,” said Ziskal.

Ziskal said there’s also a shortage of flight instructors which is also making matters more difficult for the aviation.