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American Airlines drops service to 3 cities due to pilot shortage

American made the decision "in response to the regional pilot shortage affecting the airline industry," the company said in a statement Monday.

DALLAS — American Airlines is dropping service to three U.S. airports in another sign of the pilot shortage facing the industry, officials said.

Starting Sept. 7, Fort Worth-based American will no longer fly to Islip N.Y.; Ithaca, N.Y.; and Toledo, Ohio.

Islip is located in Long Island. Ithaca is in western New York. And Toledo is in western Ohio.

American made the decision "in response to the regional pilot shortage affecting the airline industry," the company said in a statement Monday.

"We’re extremely grateful for the care and service our team members provided to our customers in Islip, Ithaca and Toledo, and are working closely with them during this time," American's statement said. "We’ll proactively reach out to customers scheduled to travel after this date to offer alternate arrangements."

The loss of service won't be a major cutback; American flies from Islip and Ithaca to Philadelphia up to twice a day, and from Toledo to Chicago twice a day.

But the dropped routes highlight something American is facing when it comes to regional carriers it operates. The airline said it currently has about 100 aircraft on the ground that it can't fly due to no regional pilots.

"Like many network carriers, we have reduced our regional flying in recent months in response to the regional pilot shortage," American said.

The airline said it anticipates the pilot shortage "could loom for some time." The company recently reached agreements with three of its regional carriers "to ensure we're able to operate a more reliable schedule in the future."

The pilot shortage has led to a tumultuous start to the summer travel season.

Hundreds of flights have been canceled and thousands more delayed over the last week. Airlines have blamed the travel issues on bad weather, COVID-19 absences and staff shortages. 

Pilots have complained about airlines overbooking flights.

“They sold tickets to the traveling public in the spring and over the winter for summer vacation, that they can’t live up to," said American Airlines Capt. Dennis Tajer, who's with the Allied Pilots Association. "It’s driving us pilots crazy."

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