Airline Pilot Shortage Impacting Northern Michigan

There is a shortage of pilots and it’s having an impact here in northern Michigan.

That shortage has led to cancelled or delayed flights and some airports across the country losing service completely.

But it’s also good news for flight schools, including ones based in northern Michigan.

The global pilot shortage has been a growing problem for several years, with tens of thousands expected to be needed to fill open jobs in the coming years. Alex Bloye is the director of aviation at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City.

“You have the largest retiring age coming up now starting in 2021. You have a global economy that’s more connected, people are flying more for business than they ever have before and the need and demand for flight training for flight travel has just gone up over the past few years,” said Bloye.

But the growing shortage is actually good news for flight schools, including the one at NMC.

‘We are recruiting through fall of 2020 at this point. We’re seeing a lot of people who are getting interested in careers in aviation, the pay has gone up exponentially and so people are noticing the opportunities in aviation now. We have students literally lined up out the door waiting for flight spots with us,” said Bloye.

The shortage has hit regional airlines and the smaller airports that depend on them the hardest.

“You’ve seen other locations across the country where normally flights would happen every day, they’re losing service completely because there’s lack of crews to fly them,” said Kevin Klein.

That’s why Cherry Capital Airport director Kevin Klein says the industry is looking to address the shortage sooner rather than later.

“After Cherry Capital Airport, all of northern Michigan is served with just regional aircraft so it’s very important that we work closely to ensure those carriers continue to build their programs,” said Klein.