(RightWing.org) – For those of us who like to travel, the last two years have been terrible – but, with more people now vaccinated and even President Biden seemingly reluctant to lock us all down again, next year could see the return of air travel as a realistic option. The question is, how affordable will it be?
Right now, air passenger volume is slowly but steadily recovering from the pandemic low. Unfortunately, as more people start to fly again, airlines are bumping up against a capacity problem – because there aren’t enough pilots to fly all the planes.
If 2021 was about flying again, 2022 is about higher fares & packed flights https://t.co/NDJaqeNimm (via @miller22) #staycurrent
— The Air Current (@theaircurrent) November 11, 2021
The US airline industry has been inching towards a pilot shortage for a decade, with existing pilots aging and not enough new ones coming through the pipeline. When the pandemic hit and flight numbers fell sharply, many pilots retired or left the industry. Now, with passenger numbers recovering faster than expected, there aren’t enough. On December 15, United CEO Scott Kirby told a Senate hearing that they have 100 planes grounded because there’s nobody to fly them.
If pilot shortages cancel flights, the airlines will fall back on their only tool to manage demand – price. Industry analysts expect the price of plane tickets to rise, forcing demand down to match available seats. If you did fly last year, you probably got a bargain price and plenty of space on the plane. Next year, expect higher prices and a crowded flight.
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