American Airlines pilot calls on FAA to monitor airlines he says are scheduling more flights than they can staff
An American Airlines pilot who serves as spokesman for his pilots' union is calling on the Federal Aviation Administration to monitor airlines that schedule flights they can't operate due to pilot shortages.
Dennis Tajer, the communications committee chair for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents 15,000 American Airlines pilots, said on CNBC that the shortage has led to gaps in training and overtired pilots, and could ultimately lead to unsafe skies.
"I'm on TV as a representative of our union and I say, 'There's a problem here,'" Tajer said.
"The fact that you're pushing and shoving us, that's not a safety culture. The FAA should come in and look at this," he added. "They should come in and watch as they try to fly more planes than they can actually fly and make those flight plans at an inhumane level and ultimately fail our passengers and waste our investors' money."
The FAA responded that it "enforces strict duty and rest regulations for pilots to ensure safety."
Thousands of flights were canceled and delayed during the busy holiday weekend of June 16 and Father's Day, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
Airlines had canceled more than 1,100 flights by early Friday afternoon, according to The Associated Press, after canceling more than 1,700 the previous day.
More than 6,300 flights within, to or from the United States were delayed and 859 flights were canceled on Saturday, according to flight-tracking platform FlightAware.
The airlines "looked at the demand and said, 'Here's the money, let's get it,'" Tajer said. "But they never had a plan to actually fulfill that and they left it on our plate."
Tajer said the money the US government has given to airlines during the pandemic has not been used properly, compounding the problem.
"This is management's failure to use the money that the American taxpayer gave them to prepare us for the recovery and we are not," he said. "And now we're starting to see them trying to cut corners in training."
Tajer said an experienced instructor used to accompany new pilots at Guatemala Airport because of its rough terrain.
"Now they're telling us, 'Hey, why don't you check out this iPad course and you're good to go,'" he said.
"They push the pilot and narrow the safety margin," he added.
The pilot's last day of work was scheduled for 12 p.m., he said.
"That gave me about an hour," said Tajer. "You hiccup there and it falls apart."
"That's not how you run a business," he added.
American Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
American Airlines has announced that it will stop flying to some airports in Iowa, New York and Ohio from September due to pilot shortages.
United Airlines is canceling 50 flights from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey beginning July 1 "due to ongoing congestion issues," the airline said.
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