The Williamsport Regional Airport doesn’t have any passengers anymore, and that happens for a good reason. Since American Airlines left about two years ago, no commercial airline flights have taken place from the airport, according to WUSF Public Media. The same source informs that the Air Travel Network is getting rid of more and more small airports.
Furthermore, a study by Ailevon Pacific, which is an aviation consulting firm, reveals that Delta, American, and United combined left behind 74 regional airports since the start of the COVID pandemic.
A shortage of pilots
The departure of major airlines from smaller airports has several reasons, and one of them is the shortage of pilots.
William Swelba, a longtime industry analyst, stated, as WUSF quotes:
In the West, the distances are greater, the terrain is more difficult, people need to fly. Whereas you look in the East, there’s lots of airports that are located in a certain geography. And the highway system is terrific. That’s why there will be more Williamsport.
Regional airports even increasingly run out of options that they can offer to passengers. This situation will change how many people in the US begin their journeys, according to the same analyst.
Richard Howell, who’s the executive director at Williamsport Regional Airport, explained, as the same source mentioned above quotes:
During COVID the airlines took $55 billion worth of money from the government for a variety of loans and PPP and all the rest of it. And as soon as COVID’s gone, they start pulling out of markets like mine. I mean, they’re literally abandoning rural America.
According to an older survey, in 2022 alone, a percentage of 44 percent of Americans were engaged in commercial flights, while almost 90 percent have taken part in such flights at least once during their lifetime.