Fewer pilots and longer resting requirements could be trouble for regional airlines. The issues that grounded hundreds of JetBlue flights this week could be just the start after new FAA regulations on rest for pilots went into effect Saturday.
The new rule, which requires 10 additional hours of rest for pilots, means there could be fewer flight options available in the future, CNN Money reports.
While major airlines already have similar rest rules in place through union contracts, smaller, regional airlines do not. The new rule, coupled with a pilot shortage, means unless something changes some areas could lose service, experts say.
“Communities that rely on regional airlines are going to lose service — it’s just a question of where and how much,” Roger Cohen, president of the Regional Airline Association, the industry trade group, told CNN. “There just aren’t enough pilots.”
And smaller carriers have a hard time hiring pilots because they pay less than larger carriers.
Even if more pilots are hired, the small airlines will need to reevaluate which cities remain profitable.
Regional airlines, which operate in about 70% of the U.S. and operate about half the nations flights, generally carry passengers from smaller airports to larger hubs.
Pilot safety rules could cut flights [CNN Money]