Delta drops flights at Southwest Regional Airport due to lack of pilots

Delta drops flights at Southwest Regional Airport due to lack of pilots

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The number of travelers passing through Southwest Georgia Regional Airport is up, so why did Delta announce last week it's cutting two flights a week starting May 5th?

The problem isn't a lack of passengers here at Albany's airport it's a lack of pilots at Delta.

Southwest Georgia Regional Airport enplanement is up 8-percent so far this year over the same period in 2014. That follows six straight months of increases at the end of last year. Monday Delta Route Planning told Airport Director Yvette Aehle the flights are being cut because the airline is experiencing a pilot shortage.

A new federal law requires pilots to have 10 hours of rest between shifts.

And new pilots must have fifteen hundred flight hours before they can fly commuter planes.

To comply with those rules, Aehle said Delta is reluctantly cutting flights in some markets.

"This is a flight shortage for regional jets. Fifty seat regional jets. There's other reginal jets that have more seats on them. They have not received any kind of shortage for those yet," said Yvetee Aehle.

Delta said flights could be restored by the end of 2015 or early 2016. They re-evaluate schedules every 90 days.

Aehle said she's adjusted her budget projections for a fifteen thousand dollar decrease in revenue.

There are now more places to park at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.

The new parking lot near the terminal is now open.

Contractors are now working to pave the rental car and long-term parking areas.

The new lots are part of the final phase of a long airport improvement project that included opening a new terminal a year and a half ago.

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